When I Was in Grade 4


When I was in grade 4, I got into trouble for doing the wrong thing. This, back then, was to read all the readers in the box too fast, and then ask for more. The teacher said I was selfish. I tried to read more slowly, and I tried really hard, I ached with slowness and generosity and cooperation.

But then I committed a worse travesty. Our grade 4 task, back then, was to write a review of one of those books. I chose the best one: about a goat and possibly a wizard and there were white and purple illustrations and this little reader had been read a thousand times and not all by me. I believed that to review meant to write out the whole book, word for word and so I did, my pencil wearing down in spirals of ecstasy, the words printing themselves in disbelief.
The teacher said: is there anyone so stupid as you!
She made me jump and I crept back to my desk, wondering if I was still there. But I was and I was and I was. The teacher had handed me back, in contempt, my lovely copy, to keep.
And so at the end of the day the teacher packed her bag full of bad temper, fatigue and the end of summer in 1974 and I packed mine, choked it to the straps with treasure, my own copy of a book about a wizard and possibly a goat, copied out by me, and then I dragged its immense value home, dancing.


12 thoughts on “When I Was in Grade 4

  1. I too finished my “reader” in the first week of school and had to wait for everyone else to painstakingly catch up. Back in the 50’s there was only one reading book for the whole year! Fortunately I had a wise teacher who sent me to the school library to get something for silent reading time. My love of books and libraries was thus nurtured and grew. My teacher also made good use of my reading proficiency by getting me to help classmates with their reading – a task now done by parent volunteers! 60-odd years later, I still read copiously.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. If I had been your teacher, I would have commended you on your skill as a young reader, and if you had written out a whole book, because I as a teacher had failed to explain the concept of a book review properly, I would have apologized, commended you on your taking steps to improve your penmanship, and made sure you understood the assignment. She was so wrong.


    1. Thank you, I think she was wrong, too. It is sad that back then, it was acceptable to speak to learners this way; we had had a long way to go as educators in understanding the value and dynamics of individual learning and also in the way content was valued and true learning assessed. When I shared this memory, the meaning of it (for me) changed – from proper intimidation and defeat to an absolute appreciation of my triumph. The transcending power of reading is powerful. I also remember that later, that teacher was removed for reasons of mental health that were never supported and never addressed. This was also sad and wrong for her. But I do wonder, what would I have achieved if I’d had you for a teacher instead !!! πŸ™‚


  3. Hi Kerry,

    So sad that this happened to you.

    Don’t worry, I would have done exactly the same thing as you would have.

    Do not understand why the teacher did not explain what is actually a Book Review, and what was required of you to do.

    I am glad that that incident did not stop you from continuing to read, and now you own a Second-Hand Book Shop which is ready really cool!!

    Love Sharon


    Liked by 1 person

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