Saturday, March 10, 2012


Ok, so I think I am a great teacher. No, really, I do. However, I had a rather, shall we say, humbling experience this week.

In my defense I have been teaching a one month block on 19th and 20th century revolutions and wars. I started with the War of 1812 and ended with the Women's movement of the 1960s. This involved ALOT of research, much of done, clearly, too late in the evening.

Anyways, I was telling the story of Gandhi and India's revolution for independence. I always try to teach history as much as possible through biography. Well, Gandhi's biography is huge, and I presented this to the class over two days. Suffice to say I had a lot of prep to do.

Here is where it gets embarrassing. Gandhi spent 22 years in South Africa where he experienced the segregation of the coloured people from the whites, and some of the degrading things blacks were subjected to in South Africa. I was reading several web pages about this and came across the story where he discovered the blacks were not allowed to walk on the same sidewalks as the whites unless they bought - wait for it - a sheet. A sheet. Now, in my sleep deprived brain I thought they were referring to bed sheets, aka linens. Well, that kinda made sense - you want to walk on my sidewalk you have to purchase something from my store.

The students went along with this idea - until I came to the part of the story where Gandhi encouraged all the coloured people to burn the 'sheets' in protest. Ok, I can go with the burning of bed sheets - kind of like the 'burning of the vanities'. Anyways my one student, who always keeps me honest, thought this didn't make any sense. Why would they burn something they had spent money on and probably needed anyways? Aha! Ever the teacher that can think quick on her feet I went on about Gandhi's vision of non-violent resistance (which he got from Leo Tolstoy, btw). Anyways, I stuck to my guns...and the next day we were talking about Hitler and World War II.

Ahem. I imagine now that anyone reading this is wanting my teaching credentials revoked. I started to think about this last week, and it suddenly dawned on me. Sheets. As in sheets of paper. Like a pass! OHHHHHHHHHH! I get it. Oh my God, now I have to face my class and (ahem) point out the folly of my logic.

I went back and read their essays on Gandhi, and so far I have not found any that mention bed sheets. Whew! Dodged a bullet on that one.

So, I am sure on Monday we will all have a good laugh. I think they have enough esteem for me that I will be forgiven (although they are 14 year olds so it may take a bribe in the form of swedish fish - their favourite candy).

Sheets. Who knew that word would be my humbling moment.

Ok, now I am going to bed to pull the sheet over my head.

I am not coming out until the sun does! (Which is kind of ironic since I am teaching Meteorology for the next two weeks - Coriolis effect anyone?)

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