Friday, January 23, 2009

Dissin' Aretha

I am a terrible teacher.

How could I have failed so miserably? I thought I was teaching them well, only to have it come crashing down around my head. I remember the day like it was yesterday.
Oh was yesterday.

It started though on that historic Tuesday, January 20, 2009. Nearly one hundred of us gathered together at the elementary school--teachers, high-schoolers and elementary students--in front of the big screen TV. The kids were excited because they got to watch TV instead of going to class. The adults knew there was something more going on.

For three hours we watched the ceremonies, then went back to class.

Yesterday, I told the kids that they had seen history being made on Tuesday. I asked them to write what they remembered about the inauguration of Barack Obama. For almost an hour, they put pencil to paper and recorded their thoughts.

It was last night, as I checked their papers, that I realized my grievous error. I had failed to properly teach them about Aretha.

Here are some excerpts-- misspellings and inaccuracies included.

"But my faverot thing was wen the lady named Aretha Franklin sang God Bless America she wore a gray hat with a big bow she sowended horible."

" Oh Oh i forgot to tell you about the dopey Aretha Franklin she sang horrible she sounded like a dying cow and she had a huge grey bow she looked like a dork and she sung god bless america."

"She was wearing a hat that was tiny and had a bow that was on her hat also it was a millon sizzes bigger than her head. Her name was Aretha Franklin. Randi told me that she was a world famous singer so I started to laugh. I will always remember how awful she sang. Maybe she will choose a better career next time."

" Aretha Fradan sang...her voes was kinda skuuy [her voice was kind of scratchy] but I liked it."

Her voice was scratchy? She sounded like a dying cow? She should choose a better career next time?

Today I went before the class to question them. "Are you serious?" I asked. This was Aretha Franklin we were talking about here. The Queen of Soul. The woman named Number One on Rolling Stone's list of The Greatest Singers of All Time. 21 time Grammy winner. The first female in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

To try to jog their memories I stood in front of them and sang R-E-S-P-E-C-T only to receive blank looks. "Well you sing better than she did," offered one girl.

I've got some serious educatin' to do.


  1. Dearest Randi: I'm of another generation, of course, the older one, so I agree with the kids. I haven't heard you sing but I'd rather listen to you.

  2. Why, thank you.

    I am what they call a monotone. I can hear the music very distinctly in my head, but when I try to vocalize, something very frightening comes out instead.

    That is why I got asked to play Madame Thenardier in a local reader's theater production of Les Miserables. When I protested, saying that I couldn't sing, the director replied, "That's OK. We WANT this to be funny."

    So whenever I'm feeling blue, I simply recall "I was in Les Miserables. Bah ha ha ha!" One of life's little ironies.

  3. I know people are talking...and maybe I was just distracted by the hat, but I didn't notice she sounded bad!

  4. You mean there are more people out there than just my fifth graders who thought she sounded bad? I didn't notice either! I could have been distracted though by all the laughing children around me...

  5. Yup - she even excused herself the next day, saying Mother Nature (the extreme cold) wasn't kind to her and she was not at her best. It was all over the news here.

  6. Hmmm...maybe I should start listening to my kids? As I have said before, I am definitely NOT smarter than a fifth grader. :)

  7. LOL! You are funny Randi! I bet you are a wonderful and fun teacher! :) I didn't watch the Inauguration . . . I was at work. :/

  8. What??? You didn't get work off for the inauguration? I need to re-train my daughter...what kind of a boss is she? :)

    Thanks for stopping by! Nice to see you here!


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