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The Eclectic Pen - How I Stopped Following the Rules and Renewed My Faith In Santa

By: Kerry M. (eduman)  
Date Submitted: 3/4/2009
Genre: Nonfiction » Education
Words: 562

  I have always been a believer in the power of following the directions. I’m no tyrant but I have always felt that following the rules is very important. No rules and things eventually erupt into chaos and then where would we be! Come to my house and you will find a drawer full of service directions for every appliance I’ve ever owned. Before we play any board game, I feel this overwhelming need to reread the rules aloud to my family. Nobody can suck the fun right out of a game of UNO like me! You get the picture. When I was offered a job as the ABE Instructor for the Clinical Care Unit at Iowa State Penitentiary I accepted it with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. My worries were soon eased as I attended my first day of training and received the Policy and Procedures book. If you are a lover of rules like me, prison just might be the place for you. I headed into my new classroom protected by this massive shield of regulations. If anything should go wrong I would have the rules to set things back to right.
My classroom is comprised of 8 students and myself at any given time. They vary in range not only in cognitive ability but mental disorder as well. I could have a 50-year-old illiterate gentleman with moderate mental retardation sitting next to a 22-year-old gentleman who had to drop out of school in the eleventh grade due to the symptoms of his burgeoning schizophrenia. On this particular morning I was helping “Mr. E” read through the directions for his assignment. He was to circle the people who were “real” and underline the people who were “not real”. We decided to do the first few together and I asked him what the first picture was. “A fireman?” he asked. “Correct. Is he real or not real?” I asked. “Real” he replied and he circled the picture. “How about this next picture?” I asked. “A teacher?” he answered. “Very good Mr. E. What should you do with her picture?” I asked. “Circle it!” he said with a smile of accomplishment. “Great Mr. E, I think you’re getting it.” I said. He studied the next picture for a few seconds and said “An elf?” I answered yes and asked him what he should do with the picture. “Circle it!” he reported. “Wait a minute Mr. E. We don’t want to circle it because elves aren’t real.” It was then I heard the squeal of an overtaxed chair scooting out from under a desk behind me. I turned to see “Mr. B”, a man who is so big he causes a cranial eclipse every time he passes between me and the sun, angrily turn to face me. “Mr. Murray! Elves are so real! They’re the ones who help Santa at the North Pole!” he yelled before taking a step towards me. I realize now that it was the rattle of shackles out in the hall, but at the time I could have sworn I heard Santa’s sleigh bells ringing in the distance. With a complete disregard for the directions I replied, “You know Mr. E, I forgot about them. I think you better circle the elf.” Mr. B returned to his seat, Mr. E aced his assignment, and I lived to see another Christmas.

The Eclectic Pen » All Stories by Kerry M. (eduman)

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Silvercat - - 3/5/2009 8:23 AM ET
What a nice piece of writing.....
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