What song was it?

I miss having time to read and write. I miss my kids. Nicolai is graduating from college in two weeks. Gabriel has decided, after freshman year, that college is not for him. He thought about being a truck driver because he likes to drive. I once wanted to be a truck driver too. Contemplating the life of open road and truck-stop diners — and realizing that only one of these is appealing. Sabrina finished her sophomore year and went right into doing research this summer, I won’t see her until late August.


A few weeks ago my students took the SBAC Performance Task (PT). We had to do a classroom activity prior to them taking the computer-based PT.

The main purpose of the classroom activity is to ensure that all students have a common understanding, at a minimal level, of the contextual elements of a PT topic so they are not disadvantaged in demonstrating the skills the task intends to assess.

One of my 6th graders sounded rhetorical, “Don’t we all know what a video game is.”

I heard the unspoken agreement among her classmates. This was unfettered privilege, I thought. Then I remembered something and told them this quick story.

I was already two years out of college and teaching middle school science. Our large district offered a 3-day science workshop — retreat style at the breathtaking Silver Falls Lodge. Two deer came out as if to greet me when I pulled into a parking space. Our first meeting was an evening of social gathering in the cozy Smith Creek Meeting Hall. I knew fewer than a handful of people. The program director took the mic and welcomed us. He said we should sing a song together to begin our fun-filled days of science workshopping. As a way to bond, he added. Everyone agreed and almost immediately broke into chorus. Everyone but me. I just didn’t know the words to the song. Nor have I ever heard of the song. The singing seemed to have gone on for much too long while I stood small and insignificant. I felt like a foreigner. All over again.

One student asked, “What song was it?” I replied, “I don’t know. I didn’t know it then, so…” I ended by telling my students that the director had assumed everyone knew the song. Who we are and what we know are our privileges. Everyone in here may know what a video game is, but we shouldn’t always assume that.

Gabriel — my possible future truck driver — reminded me once that not all his friends lived in homes and apartments. His friend was living in someone’s garage.

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One Comment

  1. Posted May 31, 2015 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    … and yes, you feel even smaller and less significant when *almost everybody* knows it, and usually there are at least four more people who are covering the fact that they, too, are utterly lost.

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