The monster is my teacher;      I shall not pass.     He maketh me face the blackboard;      He destroyeth my paper footballs.       He putteth my gum in the trash.     He maketh me be quiet        And taketh my candy away.       He waketh me from my sleep     And leadeth me to the office for conduct’s sake.     Yea, though I walk through the halls of knowledge,     I fear great evil;     For I did not do my homework.        His face hardens before me;    He maketh me write 500 words.      He filleth the blackboards with homework;      My notebook runneth over.       Truly mischief and misfortune shall follow me          All the days of my school life;       And I will dwell in the halls of the school        Forever.                Unknown

This “psalm” surfaced in a box of papers belonging to a parent.   There are a few things that came to mind while reading it.   So this is a dedication to all those who find themselves in high or secondary schools.

One who was not in school at the times when this was circulated probably can’t imagine “who would come up with this stuff?” or what ever the young call trivial conversing.   While students in high schools today may still think their teacher is a monster (even that may have a different title ),  one guesses few have the fear of not passing —this is because of programs like “no student left behind”.

The disiplining of “face the blackboard”, destroying paper “flying objects”, removal of gum (much less into the trash), made to be quiet, confiscating candy, keeping kids from sleeping are no longer practiced if rumors are to be believed by the present generation.  This era of high school students possibly have not a clue what a visit to (principle’s) office for conduct’s sake meant.  So here is the clue: “He maketh me face the blackboard” meant if a student was disruptive in a class the ( monster) teacher made that student face away from the class to the board on the wall with their back to the rest of the class.  And yes, years ago it happened and was not considered an honor to be put in the position.  So if this situation had to occur more than x number of times (depending on how “monsterous” the teacher’s patience or tolerance was) the same student was “lead to the principle’s office for conduct’s sake.”  Repeated performance of flying objects, gum-chewing, disruptive noise-making, sleeping in class, eating candy lead beyond “the blackboard” incidents to an appearance in the Principle’s office which tales of tortuous beatings from his wall-hanging board emerged.  If this student was very lucky only the suspension of three days was issued.  This issuing of suspensions was not considered a prize for reaching this level of conduct as some may think in today’s high school.  Because most all of us had mothers at home and parents who were NOT pleased their child had broken the rules of conduct to the point they were not in school.  After all the parent had endured to the summer vacation just to be able to rest from all-day parenting.  (Note: where do you think the year-around schooling idea come from?)

Even in today’s world there is knowledge to be found in schools—not sure it is all great evil.  Puncuation may need to be changed, removing the semi-colon (;) after evil thus connecting fear of great evil not to hall of knowledge but to the “fact” of not doing homework.  One guesses students still have homework to do?  However, there is big doubt the “monster” teacher makes anyone write 500 words as punishment any more.  Wow, if 500 words runneth over a notebook, you know they were a lot more simplier times than the “everything” notebooks today’s kids carry — and definitely not lap-tops or iPhones!

The life lesson of this psalm is in the last three lines: If one doesn’t straighten up and control their mischievous behavior, misfortune will not only surround their “formative” learning years (youth),  life will seem like “the hard school of knocks”.

Enjoy your schooling years. The lessons one learns there, points the direction of life.

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