Western Nebraska Observer - Observations all along the line - Kimball & the Southern Panhandle First

Letter to the Editor

The Voice of the remedial student


August 31, 2017

“Yeah, I’m in the special class this term. Sure, I like it all right, we have lots of fun and the work’s got some sense to it. I do it. Why did I get put there? Well, I ain’t so sure. The report said I had a low I.Q. But nobody noticed it till last spring when I couldn’t get along in Miss Brown’s class. She gave me the test and when I handed in my paper she looked at it said, ‘Just what I thought. I knew he didn’t belong in here.’”

Yeah, it was something they call an Intelligence Test. It was awfully funny. At first I thought it was just a joke, but it turned out, it wasn’t. You had to put crosses on pictures and circles under ‘em and lines around ‘em and dots over ‘em. There was sentences to write yes or no after sentences like this” “A carpenter builds houses.” I wrote “no” because my old man’s a carpenter and he ain’t built a house in four years. He’s workin’ on the railroad track. The boy that sat next to me put No on every other sentence and then filled the rest up with yes. He got a swell mark. I read so slowly, I only got four done before the time was up. I get so tired of bein’ hurried up all the time.

A tree, a fish, a cake of ice.

Look at this. It was so funny I tore out the page and kept it. See, three pictures – a tree – a fish – and a cake of ice. I’ss read what it tells you to do. “John is ten years old and his sister Mary is eight. If John is not Mary’s brother draw a line from the fish to the cake of ice. If Mary and John are twins write your middle name under the tree and if you have no middle name put zero there. If they are not twins print your last name on the tree. If Mary is younger than John is, write the Roman number eight in the upper left hand corner of the paper, but if John is older than Mary draw a cat in the lower right-hand corner. If they both go to school write your full name at the bottom of the paper.” I’m never sure just how to spell my name, so I didn’t even try this one.

Miss Brown didn’t like it because I always asked a lotta questions. She thought I was bein’ fresh, but I wasn’t. There’s a lotta things I want to know about. I never got mad when she asked me questions all the time. I answered ‘em. I’ve got lots of answers – but they always seem to fit the wrong questions. Anyway, everything’s a changin’ all the time so what’s the use of learnin’ a lotta things today when maybe they won’t even be true tomorrow. I know heaps of things Miss Brown doesn’t know – like where to find birds’ nests and how to fix a leaky pipe and what the baseball scores are. She has to send for the janitor when the lights go out or a window shade tears. I can do lots of things if I don’t have to read how in a book first.

Sure I’m glad I’m in the special class. I get lots more attention. Seems like if you’re awful smart or awful dumb they do a lot for you in school, but if you’re what they call “normal” they just leave you sit.

I heard the school psychologist – that’s a man that comes in just before promotion and tells the teachers why they’re not promotin’ us – he told Miss Brown it was on account of my grandfather and the rest of my ancestors. She said wasn’t it kinda late to do anything about that now, and he said it was but I must have the proper trainin’ so I’d be a good ancestor.

Gosh, I don’t want to be no ancestor. I’m gointa be a plumber.” Carmen Perkins, Ph.D


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