Tuesday, October 18, 2005
A Bad Idea of Olympian Proportions
When I was in fifth grade at John J. Audubon Elementary in Louisville, KY, our class was divided into three separate reading groups: gold, silver, and bronze. In other words: you're smart, you're average, you're stupid. What a terrible thing to do to kids.

I was the only boy in the gold group. My earliest memories are of my grandmother reading to me; little did I know at the time that her heartfelt gesture would lead to me being a social pariah some years later. By fifth grade it was socially acceptable to admit to liking girls. It was not acceptable to be the only male in a group of ten. I was the bodyguard of the sewing circle.

All of my friends were in the silver group. This group consisted of a bunch of average guys and the girls who'd play doctor with you at recess. These were the people I wanted to hang out with, not the prudish girls who'd remind the teacher when she forgot to assign homework and tell on me when I said the word "cocksucker".

Lastly, we had the bronze group. I'm sure all of these unfortunate kids ended up dead or in prison; they didn't have a chance. The gold group sat closest to the door. In case of fire, you couldn't have the excellent readers burn up. They put the silvers in the back of the class and the bronze group was stuffed into the coatroom. They had to read their "See Dick run" mental oatmeal in a glorified closet surrounded by outerwear. God forbid they be allowed to sit with everyone else. It never occurred to me how badly they were being treated. I just remember being outraged that someone had gone through my coat and taken my lunch money and other kid valuables.

Would it have killed that school to educate the slow readers rather than segregate them? I wasn't reading great literature over at my fabled catbird's seat next to the door; with help most of them could have read it, too. And if any of those kids were illiterate, what a great time to find that out before they reached adulthood.

I remember really not liking two of those kids. They were bullies; mean and violent. Maybe all the individual attention in the world wouldn't have made a difference, but someone should have fucking tried. Fifth grade is too soon to give up.

All of the classrooms at Audubon Elementary had divided reading groups, so I don't really blame the teacher; other than she could have put my group in the coatroom every once in a while (there were too many silvers to fit). This failure started with the county school board and continued with the administration at Audubon. I wonder how many lives were harmed irreparably because of bureaucratic laziness?


Poor bronze bastards.

Blogger Crystal said...

Excellent point! Labeling children and splitting them up into "the smart kid track" vs. "the dumb kid track" is unfair and is simply the wrong way to educate. It all becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy that doesn't do anyone any good.

I'm impressed. I didn't start saying "cocksucker" until my early 20's.

And my school in "armpit of the world, TX" did the reading group thing, too. I wasn't a great reader at a young age, and here I am edumacating the masses in my shiznit English classes. My revenge on the world.

Blogger katarina said...

They kept you all in the same room?
When I was in 5th grade (and 6th) there were seperate classrooms for reading and math. I was actually in the smart classes, believe it or not. Anywho, they kept us separated so that every class could get the same amount of attention. I thought it was pretty thoughtful. They didn't want to slow down the "smart" kids, but they didn't want to scare the "dumb" kids. Everyone went at their own pace.

Blogger JJ said...

I think you're being a little hard on the system, Todd, in light of the fact that a bronze group dropout is now our Prezidint.

In my 5th grade class, the slower readers had electrodes taped to their fingers and toes and we got to joybuzz them when they slowed down the rest of us. Ah, memories.

Blogger Crystal said...

I read War & Peace in the 7th grade to get a cheap certificate in a .75 cent frame. I got my ass kicked every day until I graduated from high school.

Thanks, Todd. Another repressed memory ripped from it's hidey hole by your INCESSANT MUSINGS.


Blogger PusBoy said...

In 5th grade at Kerrick, I was in the advanced class. So, we were all golds.

When I got to Noe Middle School, however, the 6th, 7th, and 8th graders were divided into A, B, C, D, and E.

A= Advanced
B= Honors, but not advanced
C= Average kids
D= Idiots
E= Oh my God! How do you fuckers remember to breathe?!

Occasionally, some members of the B's would get to take a class with the A's. And things like Gym and Band were full of A's, B's, and C's. The D's and E's were essentially locked in boiler rooms all day. They never intermingled with the ABC crowd, except maybe on the bus. They were retarded ghosts, and occasionally, they would beat the shit out of us at basketball.

Blogger Ćœbermilf said...

My high school was divided like PusBoy's description.

What kills me, instead of getting the D's and E's EXTRA HELP to pull them up, all resources were focused on the A's, and a little on the B's.

That's un-American in my opinion, but then no one listens to me much.

Blogger Nick said...


Blogger Onyx said...

I think my problem was I grew up in small schools. So essentially ALL of the freakin class was bronze. Therefore I would spend most of my time sleeping in class, which in effect brought my grades down, which made me a bronze along with the others.

I was so shocked when I started honors classes as a senior in a new high school. "What? I don't have to study nouns vs verbs for the uberith time?"

Blogger Rachel said...

Damn, all I remember of 5th grade was I was the first girl that had to wear a bra...and ended up with the smallest tits.

What the fuck kinda justice is that?

Blogger yournamehere said...

That's the problem. There probably wasn't a steady male role model in any of their lives.

True, although I certainly don't have a "gold group" job.

I had several Richard Pryor and George Carlin albums my mom didn't know about, hence the early usage of "cocksucker".

seperate classrooms would have been better; they could have given everyone more attention.

Is everything a joke to you? Just kidding. I only said that because I fucking hate it when people say it to me.

I got beat up for being fat and strange. At least I don't get beat up anymore.

Blogger yournamehere said...

the middle school I went to lumped everyone together except for this disasterous experiment called "Core", which was a class of English and Social Studies that met for three periods in a row. I believe the Core classes were grouped by standardized test scores. My ninth grade p.e. class shared the gym with guys who took p.e. as an elective. Those thugs beat us at every sport on earth.

I listen to you, perhaps a little too much, according to a threatening letter I received from your husband.


I was always bored because the teacher never wanted to talk about the latest episode of SNL.

are you saying you're more of a sprinter than a marathon runner?
But you're hot. How many of them are hot?

Blogger Rachel said...

Todd baby, I am definitely a sprinter, but all that running gives me GREAT stamina ;)

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