Sunday, January 30, 2011

Mrs. Schearer

My fourth grade teacher was Mrs. Daisy Shearer.  I had no idea until recently that she was a friend of my mother.  Otherwise I would have played upon that strategy. This was the worst period of my time in elementary school.

I have no idea why I did not get along well with Mrs. Schearer.  I don't recall her doing anything to me to cause ill feelings.  Perhaps it was just my attitude.  At any rate, I was in fourth grade and hated it.

Compounding this was the fact that we must not have had enough fourth grade students or perhaps enough fifth grade students because they decided the would be a combined class of the fourth and fifth grade.

The fifth graders had their desks turned away from the fourth graders.  They got to stare out the window and we got to stare at the blackboard.  By the way, this was back in the day when schools had actually black slate boards that were held in place by a wooden frame.

 Teachers used chalk, which occasionally screeched if it was held incorrectly, thus sending out a wicked noise that made one cringe.

Mrs. Schearer would teach the fourth grade reading, writing or mathematics and give us some busy work, then go to the other side and teach the fifth grade.  Maybe this lack of attention irked me.

The fourth grade was an introduction to multiplication of large figures and long division.  We also suffered through adding sums of great columns of numbers.

The homework was the worst.  We were sent home with a ton of homework and expected to come back in the morning with our work completed without errors.  I had no idea what was the quotient of 2,758 divided by 631, and I did not really care.

Today's children are allowed to cheat by using calculators.  We did not have calculators in 1962.  Dad had a large heavy adding machine that had a crank on it.  He would punch in figures, then pull the handle to add more figures then pull the crank handle again for the sum.  We had our fingers, which were put to great use.

We had to actually write out:

631)2758  =  631 x 4 = 2524  2758 - 2524 = 234)631 = .3708 = 4.3708 

We generally had about 30 to 50 of these number problems to figure out each night.  I whined. My parents yelled.  I got tired and stayed up to late doing math problems and then had to write a report on the first chapter of my history book.  I woke up cranky and the cycle repeated.

I don't recall consciously devising a scheme to vent my anger, but my plan of action was to write in really small print.  I had no idea about fonts or type size, but I if I knew then what I know now, I would say I used about a 8 point type with a Lydian Cursive font.  Kids don't have much ammunition to choose from when you are dealing with the teacher and I used what I had.

The complaints started coming home.  "You are going to have to ask Marc to write his words and numbers bigger. I can not read them."  A-ha; You've discovered my plan.

Somehow I tried to make nice with Mrs. Schearer by cleaning erasers and wiping down the blackboard.

But then I went home and drew evil caricatures of her, before starting my homework.

This could have been a much better year.

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