Treasures in the Attic

Aug 26, 2010 by

A couple of weeks ago my family and I were visiting some relatives in northern Michigan or “up North” as Michiganders would say.  As part of our visit we toured an old farmhouse that my husband’s cousin is renovating.  On our way out of the house I noticed this barn on the property and asked what was in it.

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Cousin Justain proceeded to tell me about the previous owner of the farmhouse, an old schoolteacher name Mabel Martin.  The mention of a schoolteacher piqued my interest, but I became even more interested when he said, “Yeah, and all of her old files are still in the barn.”  I knew that I couldn’t leave until I got a peek at those files.  So he led me into the barn, up this ladder…DSCF4433

into the attic…


and over to these shelves of treasures where I parked myself for a little while.


The files were extremely dusty but surprisingly well-preserved, considering that they are 60-70 years old according to the 1940’s to early 1950’s dates on them.  My family was impatient to leave the hot, dusty barn, so I didn’t have as much time as I would have liked to glimpse into a past teaching era.  But I did grab a few artifacts on my way out.  One was this handbook from a professional development seminar on classroom discipline:


As I thumbed through it I found sections on topics like “Creating a Favorable Classroom Climate” and “Establishing a Good Routine”.  Then my eyes landed on a section called “Unstable Children”.  What?  According to this guide, these are the unstable children who may need remedial discipline:

  • the too perfect child
  • those who get picked on
  • those the others tease or call names
  • those the others make fun of
  • the fat one
  • the skinny one
  • the brain
  • the fellow whose interest is in the stars (heavenly kind) when classmates are following the Hollywood variety
  • the child who leaves you “cold”
  • the failures
  • those with poor academic records
  • those people say do not act their age
  • those everyone knows and not favorably either

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So I’m wondering, what child does NOT fit into one of these categories?  And just because they do, does that mean they are “unstable”?  I thought the wording was actually quite humorous and we did get a big chuckle out of it.  It did get me thinking, however, about the labels we put on our students, intentionally and unintentionally.  Some of you have already met your new students and some will be meeting them within the next two weeks.  How are you going to view these children?  As problem children?  Or as unique individuals with their own special talents, needs, interests, and yes, even quirks?

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