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January 1, 2014

The new year’s holiday allows me time to look forward and plan for the next two weeks’ worth of Theology Camps (an intensive and free-spirited time at the excellent Grace Point Camp in Kingston, Tennessee).  I also get a chance to reflect back upon the back decades of Bible classroom teaching and conjure up some memories.  It wasn’t long ago that a student asked (in an attempt to keep me from starting a quiz, no doubt) what were the most unusual things that happened in my classroom.

I’ll take time later on this month to give details of some of the, er, “finer” classroom oddities, but I can give you a short list of quick remembrances that still cause me to shake my head:

California:  During a completely library-silent study hall, Jason pulled out one of his hairs after catching a fly mid-air.  He then tied his hair-strand to the fly’s leg and quietly led it around the desk area on its “leash.”

Arizona:  Before I came into class, two of my rodeo boys challenged each other to a belly-bucking contest.  The result was that Jeremy got the best leverage, sending John posterior-first into the cheap classroom sheetrock.  To this day there is the indented wall memorial of John’s ample rear end.

Tennessee:  an eighth-grade student burst into my room between classes, begging me not to leave.  I was totally perplexed until some of the faculty (stifling laughter) told me that, as a prank, they convinced the girl that I was recruited to go to Rome and live in the Vatican as the Pope’s personal advisor on Protestant affairs.

California:  Sixth grader Alan had an addiction to Oreo cookies.  Adam had braces.  Adam ate Oreos by the dozen.  Oreos stuck to Adam’s braces in clumps. Adam was unaware.  We were aware.  Every day.

Tennessee: in one of my “college prep” segments of classtime, I was showing the students how to make pancakes, using a method of shaking the mixture with milk in a Tupperware container rather than stirring it.  For some reason, the Tupperware exploded.  I was dotted with pancake mix.

Arizona:  Jerry wanted to impress the girls by imitating an old Chris Farley SNL skit – slamming an aluminum can into his forehead.  The problem was, Jerry didn’t realize that on TV, the can was pre-cut so that it would fold up easily upon impact.  Poor Jerry smashed the Coke can open-end first into his forehead much like someone would drive a nail into a plank.  The result was a mild concussion and an admirable week-long O-ring bruise on Jerry’s forehead.

Tennessee:  In Psych class I was showing slides and describing lobotomy procedures – the action includes an icepick entering the eye socket region, to give you an idea.  12th grader Jennifer got woozy and knew she was ready to faint.  For reasons even she could not explain, Jennifer didn’t put her head down.  Instead, she stood up and raised her hand to get my attention.  Before I could react, she pitched forward face-first into the desk in front of her, spattering the floor with blood and nearly breaking her nose.  I am happy to report that she is alive and well today but mighty shy of any discussions about lobotomies or any delicate surgical procedures.  As for me, I cut back on the Powerpoint slides in Psychology class.

Arizona:  Part of my Bible class is Speech.  That is, part of your Bible training is in knowing how to communicate your faith.  Steve was a senior, and a particularly good speaker who was making top grades throughout the year.  On this occasion he was using an overhead projector as he was displaying some drawings on a screen overhead.  His final point got quite energetic, and in a final emotional appeal to the audience, he crashed his fist down to make a point.  Unfortunately, he brought his fist down on the projector, shattering the glass and ruining the machine.  The class loved it.

Tennessee:  Sophomore Laura was smitten by senior Cal, who sat next to her in my Eschatology class.  So smitten, that she sat at a 90 degree angle to me, staring at the side of his face.  Three feet away.  Cal was a great guy – a very quiet and reserved fellow who didn’t know how to approach her to get her to stop.  Laura was actually a straight “A” student, but whenever I turned my back, there she was, gazing dreamily at poor Cal’s profile.

Tennessee: For a reason never explained to me, senior  Rachel hated me from the first day she came into my New Testament class.  I don’t mean dislike, I mean hate.  Seething hate.  Bore-through-the-skull-death-stare-hate. To this day I am not sure what caused such unprovoked loathing.  She was a great student, grade-wise, but she could barely stand the sight of me.  Come to think of it, she really couldn’t stand anyone else, either, so that may explain some of it.  It made for some interesting classroom exchanges, which I may share in later posts.  It will be many a year before I forget that reptilian glare and twisted snarl look.

California:  I taught fifth-grade Current Events for one year.  We had a mildly hyperactive boy named Billy, who had an odd habit that became the joy of every one of his peers.  Whenever Billy got agitated, he dropped all contractions.  “Didn’t” and “can’t” became “did not” and “cannot” With an emphasis put on these now drawn- out words.  The strange thing was, in a normal temper, Billy always used the regular contractionss.  When his temper blew, however, it became a regression back to elementary grammer:  “This IS NOT fair, and I CAN NOT allow Jay to laugh at the way I throw the ball.  He DID NOT how me the right respect, teacher, and I CAN NOT stop from trying to hit him.”  It  always ended, inexplicably, with a tiger-growl:


I don’t know why.  Or perhaps I should say, I DO NOT know why.

Tennessee: During an in-class debate, I looked over and saw senior Alison start to shake and grow red-eyed.  As the two sides of the room got more lively, I noticed her face growing wet with tears and her mouth trembling.  I pulled her out into the hall as the debate raged and asked if she was okay.  She nodded and shook her head almost simultaneously, shrugging as she tried to explain.  “I’m not very good with conflict, and the tension is really getting to me.” She was a shivering mess.  To add more mystery to the story, she actually developed into a pretty good debater.  I never saw the problem arise again.

Oh, many more memories are coming back, but I must prepare for Theology Camp.  I will try to post some more later on.

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One Comment
  1. Thanks Brad. I remember those AZ events, though it took you to bring the remembrance back.

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