Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Second Grade

..................Jefferson School, Canon City, Colorado: Grades 1 and 2

Back in January and February, I related a couple of experiences of The Boy as a first grade student here and here. Yesterday I visited the local elementary school for a while, realizing that next week summer vacation begins and I had not yet visited my youngest grandson's class this year. The little redheaded rascal studiously pretended I wasn't present until I called him on it. He whispered into my ear, "That girl next to me doesn't know who you are." Thanks, Brayt. And apparently you don't want her to know, either.

So, preamble. Now the point. This reminded me that I had said earlier that I might go through my own school experiences grade by grade. I've been thinking about that. Which brings us to second grade. You may recall from first grade that The Boy was attending a primary school which consisted of grades one and two. Now as this new school year begins, The Boy is a part of the "big kid" group; and of course, since last-year's second graders have moved on, there can be no payback, thus we pay it forward by perpetrating the same meanness on the first graders that was bestowed on us the previous year. And thus it has always been. "King of the Hill" syndrome always afflicts those at the highest grade level in a building. Second-graders if the school is K-2; fifth-graders in a K-5 setting or 6th graders. Okay you get the drift.

But this isn't really about the social pecking order. It is supposed to be about the memories of The Boy as a seven-year old. Here it is. The teacher's name was Miss Cain. No idea whether it was Miss or Mrs. But I do know it was not Ms., which may have been an abbreviation for "manuscript." But The Boy did not know that.

As the class was learning cursive "penmanship" they got a lot of instruction in the use of pen and paper. Yes, pen and inkwell into which the pen was dipped. The frustration attendant to the learning of the Palmer Method was intense. It even may have affected the instructor, for the lad too well remembers the grasping of the elbow and the attempt on Miss Cain's part to get the arm to swing freely as it made the unending /////////// or OOOOOOOOO. (Imagine these are connected, cursive style.) She could have been gentler.

One other memory is the "hygiene" chart kept on the bulletin board right next to the classroom door. On it was recorded daily the physical cleanliness of each student. Teeth brushed? Fingernails clean? Washed behind the ears? Hair combed? Stars or no stars, you know. Sheeeeesh.

That, no lie, is the sum total of The Boy's memory of second grade. Well, that and the "walking twelve miles through the snow waist deep" to get there.


Anonymous said...

Holy cow, the Palmer Method. It tortured students for decades. I learned it, too. I think it has finally been supplanted by lesser, but less painful, methods.

Vee said...

Hmmm - was it even twelve miles across Canon City? Maybe it was good that we moved to CS and I did not have to deal with Palmer until third grade. I had a lovely and patient teacher (Miss/Mrs. Hodgekinson) who was not as uptight as were many teachers in the 1940's. I actually know people whose writing still looks as if they are copying from the Palmer workbook. None of these people are school administrators or doctors. Wonder why. Maybe you should write about how well the system met the needs of the gifted in those days.

Secondary Roads said...

I don't remember anything from second grade. I think the teacher was Mrs Ward--they were all Mrs in grade school. I do remember seeing the letter charts on the wall, but don't recall being taught any specific method.

Anonymous said...

I had Miss Scroggs for first grade Got my hand cracked by a ruler. Don't remember what I did.
Had a Miss Green for second. She was in her early twentys I guess.
I was in love. A beautiful teacher.


Lin said...

I don't remember much from second grade other than Eddie Nagel barfed up hot dog after lunch one time and we were all grossed out. Then the janitor poured that stinky sawdust stuff on there which smelled worse than the barf.

Oh, my dad died when I was in second grade and my teacher was stunningly beautiful. I remember my dad saying how much he liked her and he'd wink at me.

I guess I do remember more than I thought about second grade.

vanilla said...

Jim, when I taught penmanship, we used the Zaner-Bloser method which was developed by Zaner who was a noted Palmer method penman.

Vee, it wasn't even twelve miles to the next town. Hyperbole. My handwriting doesn't look pretty, but it is quite legible.

Chuck, the Palmer methodology started the learner with cursive writing. It was only after our time that "manuscript" or printing was taught prior to cursive. None of the readers care for the theory behind the various "philosophies."

Bob, the only "pretty" teacher I recall from grade school was the music teacher, Miss Anderson, whose class I had in fifth and sixth grades. The others mostly affected black dresses with white collars and cuffs, and hennaed hair.

Lin, it is amazing what we can recall when our memory is jogged by some little thing. Losing your father at that young age had to be very hard. It's good that you have some fun memories of him.