Wednesday, December 8, 2010


A new ninth grade student arrived in my writing elective.

He's "downgrading" to junior high.  His former school housed ninth graders at the high school.

He observed the room as the buzz of writing started.  The girl next to him is between projects.  She welcomed him; he started to ask her questions.  "Why can't we carry backpacks here?" he said.  "I mean, I wasn't going to carry my backpack around anyway, but they said it like it was a really important rule."

She responded, "I dunno.  We have some stupid rules here."

They turn to me.  "Why do we have stupid rules here?"

I love it when they ask questions like this and they truly want to know the answer.  They aren't being belligerent; they are truly curious.  I happen to agree with them. We do have some stupid rules.  My personal favorite: students are not allowed to stop at their lockers on their way to see a teacher in the morning.  This means they must walk all the way down the hall to a classroom, get a pass to return to the locker bay, and eat up at least five minutes of their allotted twenty to gather supplies instead of receiving help.

I love it when I can be honest with answers because I know they can handle it, and I know they crave it.

"Well, honestly," I say, "I think it's important for junior highs to have some stupid rules.  So that you can gain privileges when you go to high school.  Otherwise it's nothing special to move up."

They look at each other and figure out if it's good enough.

 "Yeah, like how you couldn't chew gum at elementary school..." Lisa says.

I guess it's good enough.

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