Out of the Classroom, Part One

Kama Sutra on the Prairie
By: By Jane Tahti For The News Messenger
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When you're a teacher, you can count on being rendered speechless once in a while.  My most memorable speechless moment happened when I was teaching third-grade in Lincoln.  It got underway as soon as my class lined up right after the recess bell rang.  As my third-graders filed into the classroom, it was clear to me that something was afoot. 

Instead of sitting down, several little girls came up to me and complained that one of the boys had showed them a book with "bad" pictures in it.  I looked around the classroom and sure enough, the girls in the classroom were looking at me expectantly, their cheeks pink with outrage.  The boys were watching me with curiosity.  The finger of accusation pointed to one of the boys, and when I looked at him, his face was a combination of worry and obstinacy.

I thanked the girls and then walked down the row.  I still remember:  Second row from the right, about four seats down.  I asked the accused if I could see the book he had been sharing. 

 I should have known better.

The book was handed over and I opened it to thumb through a few pages. 


 I don't know that I'd ever actually read - or seen  - the Kama Sutra but I knew I'd never seen a book full of nude photographs of men and women, front, back, up, down and sideways.

When I looked up, my entire class was watching me.  They had seen it all during recess and were waiting for my reaction.  

Bizarre as it was, I realized that I was faced with a mind-bogglingly inappropriate “teaching moment.”  They sure didn't cover this in my primary education classes at UCLA.  In fact, I'd never covered this subject matter in quite such variety and detail.  I wondered if my own cheeks had gone as pink as those of my little third-grade girls.

What to say and do?  I confess that I've always been proud of my calm response: 

I told the third-grader that the book wasn't necessarily a bad book but it was a private book.

 It was not a book to bring to school or to be shared at recess. 

 It was a book that would be in the principal's office.  His parents (God help them) could pick up the book from the principal.

With that short little episode taken care of, we all went back to reading "Little House on the Prairie."


At the Twelve Bridges Library

Free story time: 3:30 p.m. every Wednesday for kids.

Free Mother Goose on the Loose: 10:30 or 11:30 a.m. Thursdays for kids.

Events are sponsored by Friends of the Lincoln Library. The Twelve Bridges Library is at 485 Twelve Bridges Drive in Lincoln.

This column is part of a Friends of the Lincoln Library series. To reach the nonprofit Friends, write to Box 1177, Lincoln CA 95648, contact 434-2404 or Jane Tahti is the Friends of the Lincoln Library secretary.