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In the Arcadia Library book discussion group last week we were discussing how cruel the characters in our story were, all in the name of revenge. Set me to thinking.
I don’t believe in being cruel, but sometimes a little even-handed vengeance just feels good, I don’t care who you are or what your principles. If you want to make yourself feel even better, you can call it justice instead of vengeance.
I’ve lived long enough to have experienced cases like that many times. Since memories of my teaching years have come to the fore recently, I have a particular “justice day” that comes to mind.
I was in my third or fourth year of teaching and full of energy and enthusiasm. I loved what I was doing and my first-grade class sensed it. They mirrored my enthusiasm.
They all loved learning to read, so I started them in their pre-primers early in the year. I didn’t use any single approach to teaching reading, but instead had a combination of methods. We used phonics, sight vocabulary, configuration, imagery and so on.
Well, the other first-grade teacher on our staff thought phonics was the only way to go with the young child, and they should not be allowed to have books with words until they had mastered all the sounds made by letters.
She reported me to the principal for not using enough phonics. He knew my kids’ attitudes toward reading — how much they loved it and how well they did generally, so he didn’t do anything.
She then took her case to the superintendent. He decided the easiest and most fair thing would be for him and the principal to observe in both of our classrooms.
I, of course, was a nervous wreck, but I believed in what I was doing, so I didn’t prepare a special lesson. I just prayed the kids would come through. We did our usual thing and got Dick, Jane and Sally through another exciting event.
When my observation was finished, they went across the hall to observe Ms Know-it-all with her phonics.
Everything was going fine until little Johnny stood up and proudly displayed his card featuring a rooster. He inhaled and with great projection said, “Capital R. Small R. R as in Chicken.”
I was exonerated!
By Dorothy Dene