In the Greek creation myth, Gaia's (mother earth's) son Cronus castrates his father, Uranus, and throws his genitals into the sea. Aphrodite springs from the foam of this castration.
I can't decide how to handle this myth with my sixth graders, so I decide to get some advice. I ask three people, including my principal-who just happens to be passing through when I am considering what to do.
"Definitely change it. Just write in "severed his body parts," he says. The other two agree. Sixth graders won't be able to handle it. So that's what I do (not without some trouble).
During class, we are acting it out. The Olympians are the Olympians, there is a Hundred-Handed Giant, a Cyclops, Gaia, Uranus and Cronus with a knife. I have a "chaos fractal" from You Tube playing in the background - the dancing girls of 6E have created a dance to it- and the lights are off. We get to the altered "severed body parts" version and three of my students let me know, as if they are rather bored by my lack of knowledge, "Ms. Marjorie, you have the wrong story. Cronus cuts off his private part." Turns out they have all been passing around a Greek Myths comic book series.
Queen of the Munchkins
Selena is the Queen of the Munchkins in our Wizard of Oz production (opening this spring if you are interested). You're probably thinking what I was thinking when Alice tells me this, "There is no Queen of the Munchkins in The Wizard of Oz."
"I know," Alice says, "but Selena just is the Queen of the Munchkins." Alice is right. I have never met a human being with a sweeter voice and disposition.
Today, I have Selena's class, 6A, in the morning. An avid reader, she often comes in before class and asks me what words mean. Yesterday, as I am preparing for class - a bit distracted - she asks if I have ever read her current book: Diary of a Wimpy Kid. I haven't, I tell her, and she proceeds to write a word she doesn't understand on the white board:
"Ms. Marjorie, what does this word mean? she asks. I give her my best definition, "when someone is not cool." And then she writes:
"Ms. Marjorie, what dooes this word mean?" After receiving each word definition, Selena erases the word, goes back to her book, comes back and writes another word down, one after another:
This is what I teach The Queen of the Munchkins today.
Remember Sam of the Green Hair in the video? Sam is total personality (in case you couldn't tell). When he comes to class, he literally jumps up and down while asking what we are going to do in class. Are we going to read a book?! Pen Pal letters?! Do we get to act out the story?! Whenever he passes in the hall, he yells a most enthusiastic, "Hello, Ms. Marjorie!" making me feel like the most important person alive.
Last Sunday, Alice and I decide to go to Sunday brunch at The Legend Hotel, a swanky affair where you get unlimited food and wine and access to the pool, sauna and jacuzzi for $30 (oysters, sashimi, homemade pasta, freshly tossed salads...)
The first person we see when we walk in is Sam. He is sitting alone in the lobby, near the pianist. He is so shocked to see the two of us outside of school (he had Ms. Alice for drama last semester) that he doesn't know what to do. He is completely subdued - looking down, grinning shyly, answering our greetings and questions in a barely audible voice. He is done with brunch and is waiting for his family.
As we head toward the dining area, we comment that we have never seen Sam like this.
The next day, Monday, Sam jumps into class.
"Ms. Marjorie! How was brunch with Ms. Alice? Did you have a good time? Do you think you will go again next week? If you do, I will meet you there and we can swim and sit in the hot tub!"