Or, "Why I Still, Sometimes, Count On My Fingers."
When I was in fifth grade (or fourth, or sixth...it's all a bit blurry at this age), my Math teacher had an epiphany. She would divide the students into two sections: Section 1 would be students who did well in Math, and who could get through new concepts pretty easily. Section 2 was for the kids who struggled with Math, the kids who needed extra attention.
The section that was probably called Remedial in the teacher's handbook, and something less polite in the break room during lunch hour.
We had a pretty large classroom, so the teacher decided she would separate the two sections by placing us at opposite ends of the same room. We students stood in a long line at the back of the room until our names were called out; then, after she announced which section we were in, we were instructed to go to that particular part of the room.
Teacher: "Susan...Section 1."
Teacher: "Flavia...Section 2."
That second seemed to last for hours. When I think of it today, I still experience it in slow-motion. My heart was thumping, I felt like I was spinning and I silently begged: "Please say one. Please say one. Please say one. Please say one..."
Teacher: ...Section 2"
To this day, I'm insecure about my ability to do Math. So insecure that I feel like I'm going to panic if I'm forced, for some reason, to perform it in public. Damn that teacher and her great idea.
Why do we do that to kids? Kids should be encouraged, and inspired. Taught to be resilient. Made to feel hopeful.
I'm venting, I suppose, because of a small event that occurred at lunch today. As I was walking back to my office from Comic World (go ahead and smirk...Whatever, hater) I passed a group of eight kids, each around the age of 3. The group was obviously on an outing from a pre-school, because the kids were all holding that knotted rope designed to (1) keep the kids safe, and (2) teach the kids they have to conform.
While still a block away, a teacher's voice caught my ear. She was loud, and her voice was grating. (I remember thinking I was glad she was not teaching my kids.) When I was just a few feet away I heard crying, and looked down to see one of the smallest little boys, very upset. He seemed scared of the traffic, and was really crying. Hard. Our eyes met as I continued to walk, and I smiled. I felt bad for him.
Suddenly, the teacher said:
"People are looking at you because you're crying! You have to stop. People are going to stare at you."
Jeez...I hope that kid will be good at Math.