THE BLOG
09/11/2014 01:25 pm ET Updated Nov 11, 2014

Great Grandpa's Brain Versus Back-to-School Night

GG's Brain: Why did I let them talk me into this? I wanted to watch my Lawrence Welk videos tonight! Are we even in the right place? Why do they have all these plants sitting around everywhere? Is this a classroom or a fern bar?

Teacher:I'm honored to be teaching your first-graders. I see many extended family members here tonight and that's wonderful. Nothing benefits our children more than inter-generational involvement in the education process.

GG's Brain: How can that little girl be a teacher? Kids teaching kids--is that the new thing now? She doesn't look old enough to order a whisky sour. And what's with the giant ponytail? They should have a grooming code, is what they need. Put that hair into a real tight bun. Strict. Stern. Show the kids you mean business.

Teacher: Here is where the children keep their journals. I encourage all my students to spend twenty to thirty minutes working on their journals each day. It's really exciting to see them describing their ideas and experiences, and find their own unique voices.

GG's Brain: Journals?! What in the name of Mother Jones does a first-grader have to put in a journal? They've only been alive for six years, and they couldn't even talk for half that time! Good lord, the only folks who need to keep a journal are the ones doing something worth reading about--like Lewis and Clark. Look at these pages! Letters all crooked, words misspelled. We had to sit still and make the letters fit between the lines! I don't see a chalkboard around here, either. Oh no--is my itch starting to act up again?

Teacher: This fall, we're going to be studying a lot about water. The hydrologic cycle is a crucial part of our everyday world. I've ordered a big plastic structure, it's hard to describe. Kind of a series of tubes and channels, so we can run water through it and see how it behaves under different conditions, measure flow rates, and think up different kinds of experiments.

GG's Brain: WATER?! You're gonna spend all that time looking at water? I can tell ya what it does--it runs downhill! Goes outta the bathtub drain! No mystery there. Heaven help us, if ya wanna teach kids about water, tell 'em not to jump in the darn puddles when it's raining. Tell 'em what it does to a good pair of leather shoes. Anybody seen what good leather shoes cost nowadays? And damn this itching anyway!

Teacher: I teach things in a kind of, for want of a better word, a whole-istic style. That is, we work on several subjects at once. It's a process without preconditions. So when your child is drawing a picture, he or she may be using the picture to learn about geography, or dinosaurs, or whatever we're discussing at that particular moment.

GG's Brain: Is she makin' this stuff up? Holy baloney, I'm looking at a picture here, it's got a house, and a turtle with a giraffe's head, and three wavy lines. And the title of the picture is 'Arithmetic.' For cryin' out loud, when we did arithmetic we had to show a few numbers, and a 'plus' sign, or something! These kids get to show a cow flying an airplane and call it history! No wonder they can't get good jobs!

Teacher: By the way, if anyone has questions about the curriculum or my methodology, please feel free to put your hand up. I'm happy to take questions.

GG's Brain: Here's my chance. I'll say, ummm, I'll say my neck hurts and I need to go lie down. Grab a hall pass and head for the nurse's office. Merciful God, if you're listening, please make sure they have some Bag Balm in the first-aid kit!