There are lots of rules in Middle School — some of them important, and some of them written into handbook law just so the kids don’t annoy the teachers in a particular way (for example, I have a “no singing” rule in my classroom.? Not because I’m a cold-hearted meanie, but because after hearing “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” daily for nine weeks, I deemed it critical to the safety of the children.)? And some are Big Rules, because they seem like they should be — despite having no practical manner of implementation.
Like “No weapons in school”.? Seemingly a Good Rule, yes?? To an outsider, of course.? To someone who knows Middle School boys, yeah right.? I believe it was Naomi Dunford who once remarked that when all traces of violent toys are taken away, a boy will chew his toast into the shape of a gun.
So I give my kids a group project to end the quarter.? (It’s a survival tactic.? “Group projects” are a way of engaging students while simultaneously sparing the teacher from massive amounts of last-minute grading.)? Design a board game, I say.? We talk about different styles and how some of the classics came about.? They create brightly-colored cardstock boards and make notecards with a billion trivial questions.? The girls make cute games with candy and rainbows.? The boys make this:
Now in my defense, I did not ask the students to bring in anything from home.? Pinky swear.? And while I am fully supportive of our actual armed forces, I am less supportive of their plastic counter parts — for many moral, environmental, and “job retention”-based reasons.? (But then, I’m a girl.? It’s quite possible that I just don’t “get it”.)
But when I saw the sheer enthusiasm on their faces, the painstaking attention to detail, and the manner in which they named each of the little plastic pieces and parts… “the Castles are the tanks… the pawns are the troops… and the Bishops are the FLAMETHROWERS!!!”, yes my friend, that is where I lost it.
Carry on, boys.? Some rules are definitely meant to be broken.