Did he Really Believe He Was That Smart?

March 13, 2019 — Leave a comment

It’s been a long time since I was in the sixth grade but I remember that I almost flunked because of my smart mouth. I have always loved to read and even today I read 3 or 4 magazines cover to cover every month. I have learned so much from “National Geographic” and “Readers Digest” I just wish I could remember all that knowledge so I could play on Jeopardy.  This story was brought about by something I had read in Readers Digest shortly before this incident.

Many years ago I noticed in the Journal an article that told about the Greenwood School Board voted to name the new grade school after long time principle Mr. Isom. Had I been dead I would have turned over in my grave. Mr. Isom had been the principle at one of the elementary schools almost forever.

In 1956 the 6th grade at Greenwood had 2 teachers. Mr. Belcher taught in the mornings and Mr. Isom, the schools principle, taught the afternoons. One of the subjects he taught was math, basic arithmetic. He was always telling us how smart he was because he did this or that. The only kids he impressed were the girls. He had a very good dark room in the school basement and was always developing film and printing pictures during recess and lunch and sometimes after school. Occasionally, my self-included, a few boys were invited to check out the dark room. He didn’t know I had my own dark room at home. Very basic but I did develop film and print pictures but no enlarging.

One afternoon he started the math lesson by drawing a chalk line the length of the black board, abut 20 feet and said, “That is all the knowledge in the world.”  He then, with a big production, drew a line about 3 feet long and said, “This is what I know.”  And then, and then he drew a line about 2 inches and said, “this is what you know”.

Now the S/A in me took over. Mr. Isom I have a problem for you. You have a hill 1 mile up and 1 mile down for a total distance of 2 miles, assuming instant acceleration you go up the hill at 30 mph. How fast do you have to go down the hill to average 60 mph for the two miles? With a slight chuckle, if I remember right, he said that is so easy. He then proceeded to make a huge math problem on the board and turned around and said,”90 mph”.

I’m sure with a big smile on my face I said, “Wrong”. And he said, “I am not wrong”. And I said yes you are wrong and proceeded to explain that a car going 60 miles an hour takes 2 minutes to travel 2 miles; Right? He agreed, the car in question going 30 mph takes 2 minutes to go 1 mile. Therefore, you can’t average 60 mph because you are out of time at the top of the hill. And when you are dealing with mph you must always include the time factor. The whole classroom burst out in laughing and that was the start of my academic decline in the sixth grade.

My next report card went from B’s and a few A’s to all c’s and I think 1 D. Now that was not a pleasant evening at home. My father could not get home soon enough. The next day my mother went to school and was told that I was one of their best students to which she replied how that could be with those grades. One thing Mr. Isom didn’t know about my mom was that one of her best friends was the wife of the superintenant of Greenwood School System, Mr. Stanly Porter. After a couple of days there was a definite change in the attitude toward me. However, about a week later my dad got a call from Mr. Isom telling him the owner of a down town café had called him to complain about the kids eating lunch being unruly, especially me being very boisterous and loud. He ask me about and I said no I am not loud or boisterous. That I bought a hot dog and a coke and when finished I played pin ball until it was time to go back to school.

The next day my dad went to the restaurant and talked to the owner, I think his name was Morris. Dad asked if he knew me and he said oh yes. He’s a good kid, comes in every day and has a hot dog and Coke and then plays pinball till it’s time to go back to school. Dad then asked if I ever caused any problems and Mr. Morris said none of the boys cause any problems why would you ask. Dad said that Mr. Isom had called and reported that you said Richard was causing problems. I think Mr. Morris called Mr. Isom because my life at school got a whole lot better that afternoon. It got even more better after Dad went to the next school board meeting and lodged a complaint.

I was really glad to start the seventh grade at Whiteland with a clean slate. I guess I did fairly well. I can honestly say I learned a lot and have had a successful life.

Thanks for listening,

Richard Isley

The Crotchety Old Man

Edited and approved by Linda

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