Put the Pencil Down

The rainclouds gather and the class grows antsy in anticipation.  For all the brick and concrete and steel of the school, the natural element has a way of awakening something primitive in every student.  It's not that primitive is bad, either.  It's simply deeper, more human, more earthy and real than dividing fractions.

The claps of thunder disrupt my monologue.

I let go.

Students gather near the windows and watch, studying first the drops and then the hail.  A few brave souls venture outside and experiencing the pummeling of a lifetime, but the fist-fulls of atmospheric ice are a prize they relish.

"Is it safe to eat?" one asks.

A girl pulls out her paper and begins to draw.  Her twin sister slaps her hand away and says, "Not yet.  You can sketch later.  Right now we can watch."

A boy standing by our class camera takes the twin's advice and sets down the machine.

When we study conflict, we study Man versus Nature and Man versus Machine.  Today, though, we are watching Nature versus Machine and though the war may be lost, this battle belongs to the clouds.


  1. This happened with a cell phone and a hail storm in my own classroom, Tom. Amazing the parallelism that exists between our worlds.

  2. Funny John; we should always be mindful of the appropriateness of technology.I brought a stack of slates back into my room and the students love them. So much less wasted paper and no electrical bill.

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