Friday, July 31, 2009

back-to-school thoughts, just for a moment

I have an exciting new teaching job starting in a month (yesterday I had my first official meeting with the Reading Specialist), and in my role as charter school founder I've been having some deep "academic design" thoughts. So this wicked poem that I rediscovered in a book called Poetry Slam: The Competitive Art of Performance Poetry (ed. Gary Mex Glazner, 2000) has been wandering the halls of my inner school...

Backwards Day

Sometimes at school we have a special day
We call it backwards day
Everyone wears their clothes backwards
Or wears colors that clash
I have a modest proposal
Forget your silly backwards hats and tee shirts
Forget this stripes and checks together puppypoop
Let's get serious
Let's really shake school up

In math class, for homework
Describe the associative, distributive, and
commutative properties
In dance
Choregraph it, dance it, show your work
Points off for clumsiness
In Social Studies, for homework
Prepare two Civil War marching songs, one North one South
Sing in four part harmony, show your emotion
Points off for flat notes

In English, for homework
Carve a sculpture that expresses Hester Prynne's solitary courage
The cowardice of her lover
The beauty and strangeness of her child

In Science, for homework,
Bring in a broken toaster, doorknob, or wind-up toy
Fix it
You get extra credit for using the leftover parts to make something new
Points off for reading the directions

On the S.A.T.
Every one of the questions
Will be in haiku

You get two scores
One in whistling, and one in Legos
No calculators

Let's take a stroll down the hall
Let's see who is in the learning disabilities classroom now
Will you look at all those guys with pocket protectors
Sweating, slouching, and acting out

Hey, no care that you can divide fractions backwards in
your head buddy
You will stay right here and practice interpretive dance steps till
you get it right

Will you look at all those perfect spellers with bad attitutdes
Look at those grammar wizards with rhythm deficit disorder
What good is spelling gonna do you
If you can't carry a tune
Toss a lariat
Or juggle?

You are going to stay right here and do the things that you can't
Over and over, and again, and again
Until you get them right,
Or until you give up
Quit school
And get a job
As a spell checker
At the A&P

~Daniel Ferri
P.S. Does anyone know how to make blogger obey my WYSIWYG commands? Grrrrrr.


  1. Wow, that's a great poem. Thanks, Heidi!

  2. Heidi, this poem is so true. As teachers we learn there are 7 different intelligences, but tests like out MSA measure a few of them.
    What will you be teaching this year?

  3. Hi, Heidi, thanks for joining our Poetry Friday gathering this week. And best of luck with the new school year. I hope you'll share more stories (and poems and more) about the amazing things that will happen there!

  4. I have just one word . . Amazing!!


Thanks for joining in the wild rumpus!