where the writers are
BACK TO SCHOOL--Teaching in the 1940s

Dear Bridget:

Thanks for your comments about my power as a young teacher.  Hey, power comes with practice!  I was totally at the mercy of those age10 plus fourth graders, who had a clearer read on power than I did at that time.  What turned things around was when I found out that they had to take an arithmetic test for which they weren't ready, because I had set up my class according to Piaget's preachings: "take the child where he is and go from there."  The test was on long division, and some of my students didn't even know the multiplication tables.  So I made a deal with them: nothing but arithmetic in the morning, 9 to 12, and art and music in the afternoon.  We crammed like mad, and they aced the test.

That was the secret of my rapport with the class.  There was no more throwing of papier mache at each other or at miscellaneous spots in the room; we finished the map, and the class performed a play I wrote at the end of the semester.  We ended up respecting each other, and I managed to survive my first semester of teaching elementary school.

It's good to hear from you.