Chapter 4 –1st grade

For First grade I had Mrs. Enke, I have no idea who she was or what she looked like. I do know she thought my handwriting needed a lot of improvement. She also thought I had a problem with respecting authority, following directions, listening effectively, completing assigned work and effectively using my work and free time. Let’s peruse her comments about this particular first grader.

“Mark is overcoming his shyness. He seldom contributes at Share and Tell time or in Science or Social Studies. He seems to know his reading words quite well, but often refuses to share them.”

I’m overcoming my shyness am I? Maybe that’s why I don’t participate, hmm? Did you ever think of that Mrs. Enke? Did ya, huh, did ya? I’m too shy to contribute my thoughts? I wonder why this wasn’t a problem in kindergarten? What’s up with the reading thing? Maybe I felt that reading was a personal matter not to be shared with classmates. Trust me lady, I’ll be sharing enough in the upcoming years. If you’re still around, you’ll get yours. You’ll be praying for me to shut up.

“I feel that Mark is getting lazy. He has not been finishing his homework assignments. He has not been learning his reading words. He has the skills to be at the top of his class, but he’s just not using them. He often fails to hand in his papers. I hope this will improve next semester.”

I don’t think I like this lady. I think she’s coming down pretty hard on the ole’ sweenzster. I’m “lazy?” What the hell does that mean? If I don’t do “homework” I’m lazy? Hey Mrs. Enke, that’s why I go to school. I do my learning at school, not at home. You’ve got me all day long, teach me what you want but I’m not taking it home with me. I’ve got a full plate as soon as that bell rings, and doing “homework” isn’t one of the things on that plate. Let’s see if anything improved in the third semester.

“Mark’s reading comprehension is improving but he can still improve. My main concern is Mark’s attitude of being so defensive in most areas. He doesn’t take interest in many things. He wastes so much time instead of doing constructive things. I marked him on respecting authority since he is defiant and disobedient most of the time. This hopefully will be changed the next quarter.”

Well guess what sister? Nothing did change. As a matter of fact, not much of this has changed in the last forty years. Why should I feign interest in something that doesn’t interest me? Have you an answer? I thought not. I love the way so many teachers “hoped for a change by next quarter.” It’s a phrase we’ll see again and again. She also thought “I wasted time instead of doing constructive things?” Isn’t that what I’m in school for? For you, my teacher, to give me constructive things to do? You want me to come up with constructive things to do during free time? Why are we even having free time? Aren’t we supposed to be learning? If you’re concerned about me doing something constructive, quit giving me free time. If my free time isn’t mine to spend freely, then it’s not really “free time” is it? This isn’t the school for the arts, it’s first grade. Give me something to do, if it doesn’t interest me I won’t do it, but at least make the effort. Defiant and disobedient? What the hell? How does a 1st grader get to be defiant and disobedient? Was no one in control? What else happened?

“Mark will be ready for second grade next year. He should continue reading for his enjoyment and practice number facts through ten. He has been more cooperative this quarter. I hope Mark has a happy summer.”

Whew! I’m glad I’m done with Mrs. Enke. She seemed glad to be rid of me. Curious.

Mark Sweeney is a 20 year comedy veteran and a former Marine. He’s been seen on Comedy Central, Short Attention Span Theater, Days of Our Lives, Boston Public and Third Rock from the Sun. He’s worked his magic for audiences from Duluth to Belize to Kandahar.

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