Mound Elementary had many great qualities and truly did bestow upon me a good, or at least decent enough, education. During my grade school years my instructors designed an array of purposeful and effective lessons and kept us all more or less in line behaviorally speaking.
That said, there did exist the outlier, the occasional, “Are you serious? We’re actually doing this? Wait. School is for education, right?” Okay, so perhaps as an elementary school student I didn’t have quite the sarcasm I now possess, but nonetheless was left confused and mildly annoyed at the waste of my precious time.
One such instance occurred several weeks into my Kindergarten year. I liked school so far. I found it interesting, educational, and purposeful. Pleased with my schooling experience thus far, I walked into Room 2, took my seat and prepared for another enriching day of enlightenment.
My teacher, in her Sunday School dress and Grandmother sweater walked to each table and dropped off the morning’s work. It looked like this:
Fresh off the xerox, the purple ink was slightly smeary. Surely this mysterious paper must be part of some intricate science experiment! Typically our morning worksheet was simple, straight-forward, and self-explanatory. But this – oh this was something different, special! I eagerly sat in my navy blue chair, wearing my sailboat dress with matching bow, awaiting instruction from my teacher, the bearer of all knowledge.
She spoke: “Good morning class! Today, for your morning work you will need to take out your scissors. This is a cutting assessment. Use your scissors and neatly cut each line on the paper.” She went on to explain not to stop cutting too soon nor cut too far and other obvious things.
“This certainly must be a joke,” I thought silently to myself, “It must, must, must be a joke.”
I waited for Mrs. Finch to let us in on it, tell us she was kidding, to start laughing at what a foolish assignment this was. None of these things happened. Instead, every kid in the room began rummaging around their school boxes for what I could only assume to be a pair of scissors. Sitting there dumbfounded, and mildly offended, I realized I was now the only student doing nothing; everyone else was meticulously cutting away.
Not wanting to appear noncompliant, I obediently removed my blue fiskars from my school box. I ferociously began to work in what was perhaps the most hasty cutting job Room 2 had ever witnessed. I haphazardly guided my scissors across each line. The last started and the first finished, I marched over to the book corner where I read a lovely story with beautiful illustrations in what was clearly a much more effective use of my time. I received what was nearly my lowest mark of the year, only to be rivaled by the time I received an “unsatisfactory” in skipping.