Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Educating Misty

Many, many moons ago, there was a little girl called Misty. She was generally a cheerful little thing who liked playing with her toys and dressing up, and also, thanks to her parents teaching her to read at a very early age, going through her library and getting lost in the world of Beatrix Potter, Asterix the Gaul, and Watership Down.
Little Misty sailed through nursery school, where the main 'teaching' was in the form of learning the alphabet and colouring in, two things she already knew how to do, and enjoyed.
But then the day came when she had to go to 'big school'.
The first day arrived, and little Misty was all dressed up in her new uniform, and set off clutching her satchel containing her lunch and a teddy bear for luck.
An exciting new world greeted little Misty; a world with little desks to sit at, hamsters in a cage, tadpoles in a tank, rows upon rows of books yet to be read, and best of all, a sandpit and wendy house in the corner!
Introductions were made, and rules read out, and a guided tour of the toilets and playground ensued before getting down to the first 'lesson'.
All the children were shown a bench, on which were piles of twelve different books, each a different colour from the previous but all with the main title 'Janet and John'.
The children were told to each take a copy of the first book, read it, then put it back when finished, do the same with the next coloured book, and repeat until they had read the last.
Then, they could go and play in the sandpit.
'Hurrah' thought little Misty, and grabbed the first book, eager to get to the sandpit.
Half an hour later, she finished the last book, and placed it carefully back on the bench before hurrying to the sandpit and grabbing a bucket and spade.
Suddenly a dark shadow loomed over her.
"And what do you think you're doing, Misty?" asked the teacher, and before Misty had a chance to reply 'playing in the sandpit like you said', she was told that she had to read all the books before she was to play there, and unceremoniously dragged back to the bench and the first book shoved into her hand.
Once again, she read through all twelve books, and once again headed off to the sandpit.
Once again, the dark shadow loomed...
Little Misty tried to explain that she had read all twelve books twice, but to no avail.
Once again, she was returned to the bench and given the first book to read.
Once more, she read all twelve books, by which time she was getting bored witless with the antics of Janet and John, and watching them run and play. Misty wanted to play, and had kept her side of the bargain, so why wasn't she allowed to play too?
Again, she finished the books and made her way to the sandpit.
Again, she was told to read.
Again she tried to explain that she had read the bloody books, but again the teacher refused to listen.
This was all too much for little Misty. She was only four years old and school had changed from being the fun promised by her parents into a horrible, evil place in which rules were made up to be nasty and broken by teacher to spite her.
Little Misty decided she had had enough of school.
At the end of the day, Misty's mother came to pick up a very tearful and angry Misty.
Misty proclaimed that she never, ever wanted to go back, and told her mother how unfair they were there, and that she also hoped Janet and John would stop showing off about their sodding big red ball.
Misty's mother went and had a word with the teacher, to see if what Misty had said was true.
The teacher said that yes, Misty had been most disobedient and had refused to read the books, and that that sort of behaviour would lead to trouble if not corrected.
Misty's mother called Misty over, and asked her to tell the teacher what happened in all the books she'd read that day.
Almost verbatim, Misty told all twelve stories about Janet and John and their big red ball, before saying how hateful the teacher was, and once again said she wasn't going back the next day.
The teacher stood there with open mouth, staring at Misty in disbelief.
Eventually she said that they'd never, in all her years of teaching, had a pupil that could read that well, and had finished all twelve books in a week, let alone half an hour.
Misty's mother made the teacher apologize to little Misty, and after a compromise was met whereupon Misty would choose a book a day from the library, then play in the sandpit when she had finished as promised.
Misty agreed and returned the next day, this time with her favourite bucket and spade in her satchel.
Big Misty still hates Janet and John, and teachers who don't listen.