Thursday, July 26, 2012

On Track

The Sit-Down

Jiro's school, Craneview Jr. High
Last week my son, Jiro (who is in the second year of junior high), and his mother had a sit-down with his teacher, Ms. A, before summer recess began. It's a regularly scheduled parent/student/teacher conference that takes place at least twice a year. 

Everything was running smoothly until talk turned to homework and turning in assignments. Ms. A pointed out a perennial problem that keeps popping up on Jiro's report card - missing homework.

It's really not lost or missing. After all, you can't lose something that never existed in the first place and in Jiro's case homework isn't even on the radar. I  give the kid a lot of credit for just showing up to school at all. That alone is a groundbreaking achievement for our small, immediate, and like it or not, grossly undereducated family. Not only that, he has some great academic skills that don't ever appear on the official school record. They are admittedly hard to pin down and come out of nowhere, especially when you're least expecting them.  

They came out last week and just in time. After skirting around the big issue for a few minutes Ms. A finally hit the nail on the head with the blunt end of a damning report showing that Jiro had not handed in any of his assignments for three out of five hardball subjects. 

Jiro's mother quickly agreed that he needed to get down to business while the boy calmly poured over the checklist of faults. After the other two conference attendees were done shaking their heads in agreement, Jiro waved his hand over the evidence on the table, and then slowly pointed all five of his fingers to the section detailing last semester's performance record. 

Tilting his head ever so slightly, he noted, "Last semester was even worse." Everyone immediately conceded to the painfully obvious point he seemed to be making. He failed to submit any work for five out of five academic subjects last semester. "I didn't do anything last time. This time I've done my work in two subjects! Isn't that an improvement?" He had them all exactly where he wanted. They were cornered and about to be schooled by the least schooled among them.   

"That is an improvement," said Ms. A as she nodded in agreement. "Yes, it's a big improvement," replied Jiro unexpectedly. Ms. A's eyes quickly darted from Jiro to his mother and back before blinking once. The rails had been suddenly switched beneath her wheels and now with a sigh of resignation Ms. A uttered, "Yes it is a big improvement and I just encourage you to stay on track." 


This is an episode of the once long-running junior high-themed TV drama, Kinpachi Sensei. Rumor has it that the fictional school portrayed in the show was initially modeled after the local junior high school serving Temple Valley. 

Kleenex Alert: If you watch this clip you may become verklempt.

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