Wednesday, April 27, 2011

You Say Faux Pas…I Say Learning Experience

In any given class you will have nice kids and not-so-nice kids, hard-working kids and not-so-hardworking kids, funny kids, serious kids, smart kids and not-so smart kids, and everything in between (and above and below).  (The thing about public education that a lot of people don’t understand is that we take whatever walks through that door…for better or for worse.)

In the category of smart kids you have the sub-category of really smart kids.  And by really smart, I mean really, really, really smart.  Now these kids may not appear smart if you were to walk in on them in their classroom environment at any given moment.  In fact, one the smartest kids I’ve ever had in my life had pretty much no fine motor skills, which meant that all of his written work, which is what gets presented to the world, was a complete and total mess.  Yet, that kid could tell you the difference between the War of 1812 and the Civil War…I’m guessing better than most adults could…including moi!  That kid could also problem solve like nobody’s business.  Once his wheels started turning, watch out, ‘cuz great things were going on up there!

I have a student in my class this year who also qualifies as really, really, really smart.  IQ-wise he’s probably the smartest kid in the class.  However, similar to my friend above with no fine motor skills, my student this year has major, major focusing issues…meaning he can’t stay on task to save his life.  Meaning the smartest kid in the class is on a daily behavior contract because he doesn’t finish his work!  He’s beyond capable, but for whatever reason he finds his pencil, eraser, seat partner…pretty much anything…to be more compelling than the assignment at hand.  But make no mistake, the kid’s smart!

For our 100’s Day Collections earlier this year…while the rest of the class was collecting 100 Cheerios, pennies, stickers, and…UGH…silly bandz…this kid was collecting capitals.  No, not capital letters, silly, state capitals…and since he ran out of USA state capitals he added the capitals of foreign countries…because really, what 6-year old doesn’t find capitals fascinating?!  This little foray of his into world geography paid off just this very morning.

The first thing we do every day is Calendar, and the last part of Calendar includes a question strip from Brain Quest.  Each strip has five questions that cover a variety of topics (math, spelling, grammar, etc.).  One of the questions today was:  What two letters begin the words “queen” and “quiz”?  A student raised his hand and said, “Q.” 

“Hmm,” I said, “doesn’t Q have a very best friend that he is always, always, always with?  Do you remember what letter Q never leaves home without?”  I know, I know, gag me, but hey, First Grade is all about these cute little sayings. 

The student remembered that ahh, yes, Q is always with U. 

Well, my little world history buff’s hand immediately shot up and he said, “Um, Mrs. J., that’s not right, there’s a country on the map that starts with a Q but doesn’t have a U.” 

“Oh, do you mean Qatar?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said, “that’s the country that has a Q but no U.”

The fact that he even knows about countries is pretty amazing…most First Graders barely know what city they live in!  But the fact that he remembered there is a country on the map that breaks the QU “rule” is quite impressive, indeed.  Beyond impressive, if you ask me.   

Speaking of impressive, aren’t you impressed that I know there is a county named Qatar?  Well, don’t be, ‘cuz here’s how I know…

A few years back some friends of friends had been relocated for the husband’s work.  He was (and still is) an engineer in the oil industry, and the last we had heard at that time was that they were living in Texas.  We were asking about them one night because they got moved around quite a bit, and our friends said they were feeling a bit worried for them because they had been relocated yet again…this time to Qatar. 

Now, I’m a small-town girl who was raised in Nowhere, USA.  I’ve never been out of the country, unless you count Baja, California, which, quite frankly, I don’t, or unless you count the time my dad was on a Fulbright Scholarship in Lima, Peru, when I was an infant, which, again, I don't.  So I assumed Qatar was in Texas…and I said so.  Qatar, huh, so what part of Texas is that in?”  I stupidly asked. 

My husband looked at me like the moron that I was (and still am), my friends looked at me like, Is she serious, and someone, thankfully, took pity on me and very kindly said, “Um, Jane, Qatar is in the Middle East…you know…near Iran and Iraq.”  Ahh…so that’s why they were worried.  I was kind of wondering why they were worried about Texas…I mean, I know the big hair is scary and all, but really, Texas seems harmless enough! 

So that’s how I know about Qatar…and that’s how I was able to keep up with my student today…my 6-year old student!  Good grief, I hate to think what would have happened if I hadn’t have had my little Qatar gaffe all those years ago.  So you see, my friends, sometimes a little faux pas every now and again isn’t such a bad thing…unless, of course, you’re the unfortunate soul who married me! 


  1. Lol...I did not know where Qatar was either, but I was fairly certain it wasn't in Texas. Can you imagine the look on your little friend's face if you had suggested in class that it was in Texas. Priceless.

  2. Thank you for admitting that. I don't think it's all that popular of a place!

    That would have been priceless, indeed. What would not have been priceless though is when he went home and told his parents that his teacher thought Qatar was in Texas!

    Thanks for stopping by!