Thursday, September 30, 2010


Dash is a young sixth grader who can't function in a chair. I let him lie on the carpet during class, and while the other kids are jigsawing their expert folders I let Dash look at a picture on my laptop and write down his observations on his own special graphic organizer. His older cousin is in my 7th grade class, and he warned me a couple weeks back that "Dash is fucking crazy. Just you wait."

Typically Dash sits on the rug or lies on the rug and doodles and does some of his work in colored pencils. On Thursday last week he said "I only have one pill left, Mr. Geoff. I just thought you should know." On Monday he was like a ricocheting bullet, bouncing around the room. On Tuesday I sat him next to me and stood on his pants leg so he couldn't get up, while he impaled himself on a crucifix and told me my mother performs high-quality fellatio in Hades.

The short kids' novel Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key is narrated first-person by a boy similar to Dash--and a lot like one of my favorite kids of all time, Earache, from the March last year. I think Dash is hilarious and sweet, and even at his least restrained I try to find ways to negotiate with him. But without his meds he's dangerous and totally unreasonable and he doesn't belong in a public school building. But this book helps one empathize. I think every teacher should read it, and everyone who has kids in public schools too--so you can get an idea of what we deal with in the "full inclusion" classroom, where one adult sometimes has several students who need but don't have the proper meds. And yet we love these kids who can't control themselves, and we want them to have a chance to succeed and lead rich lives.

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