Chickens seem to be a perfect convergence of the economic, environmental, gastronomic, and emotional matters of the moment, plus, in the past few years they have undergone an image rehabilitation so astonishing that it should be studied by marketing consultants.
—“The It Bird” by Susan Orlean
You know you can make your own teaching moments and have that I-just-changed-the-life-of-a-child-for-the-better misty-eyed feeling whenever you want. You think it up and force it on them and watch the party start. Of course, having a question and answer contest to help prepare for the chapter five and six Georgia history quiz is as old as show and tell. It ain’t anything that educators haven’t done for a couple of hundred years. I just doubt no other educator calls his question and answer contest Torture Chamber.
Here’s how the hell is unleashed: First you figure they’ve been paying attention to your eminent lectures and studying their study guides you worked so hard to make for them as well as the textbook and figure they might have a fairly good idea what the bejesus we’re talking about.
On the board you write real big with a red marker—TORTURE CHAMBER—and then underneath that you write their names … or if a victim has a nickname he or she would like to use then you humor them with that even if it’s repulsive or scary or come to find out: the name of a liquor. You just tell them anything that happens in Torture Chamber today you can’t tell Lurlene or your parents or I’ll show up to your next birthday party.
Then you have them clear the tops of their desks and ask them to place both hands on the top of the desk like the way that Egyptian sphinx thing has its hands … or paws … I really don’t know what the hell they are … out in front.
Then you tell them in a real official voice that you’re going to ask then chapter five and six questions and you have to raise your hand if you think you know the answer to the question. So it’s first hand raised and believe me since I’m cat like I’ll be able to tell who got their hand up there first. If you get called on and you know the answer then you get a point, although some questions I’ll tell you if they’re worth three or five points or whatever. If you raise your hand first and don’t have the correct answer you get deducted as many points as the question was worth. Welcome to the Torture Chamber. I guarantee you some of you will be humiliated, degraded, violated, and embarrassed, but will love every second of it. Did everybody have a nice day off?
By this time you can instantly tell who wants to play Torture Chamber and who don’t.
All of them, though, are sitting straight up and sort of wiggling their butts in the seat like they have a Daisy lever action BB in their cracks. At this point some victims even practice raising their hands real quick to see how it works. No problem. Anybody need a squirt of WD-40? … pronounced dubyer-dee-fordee?
So now I step up to The Lectern of Speaking with my chapter five and six study guides. I also tell them that when we’re all dead and dying because we’ve been victims of the Torture Chamber that first, second, and third place winners will get to hover over the Drawer of Happiness and then dip one greasy hand into the awesomeness and grab as much as they can in one grab. And the person that’s leading the Torture Chamber … then you’ll get custody of the wiggly plucked chicken and he’ll be happy about that, too, and give you confidence.
Someone screams … Let’s go! C’mon! When’s the quiz this week? I’m gonna win this freakin’ thing!
Fine … fine. I start barking questions. Here’s a feel for the frantic, knowledge-vomiting exultations you get when you play Georgia history chapter 5 and six Torture Chamber in The Cozy Room of Learning …
Question: The person who founded Georgia is …
Question: What was one reason for establishing the Georgia colony …
Ramona: Oh, my God! Oh, my God! Oh, my God! Oh, my God! Oh, my God!
Question: True or false … the humidity, bugs, and heat of coastal Georgia hampered the work of the early colonists …
Hoover: I know the answer! I know it! I know it! I know it! I know it! I know it!
Hoover sure didn’t … but later he did … and then he forget it again. Most of them did remember the answers as we moved along. The wiggly plucked chicken got thrown around today to a bunch of different people and when they had to give it up and extend its mystical avian goodness to another person who just nailed a three pointer on the correct side of right or wrong the wiggly plucked chicken got thrown hard at the new leader’s head.
That’s fine. It’s soft and wiggly and it has a creepy but comfortable feeling that you like and want in your life forever. It's something you talk to stranges about.
After the torture and when everybody seemed to catch their breath, Tempest asked me if I disinfected the wiggly plucked chicken like I promised I would a long time ago.
Never lie to children.
Tempest said … well … it needs disinfecting after all this. Definitely.
I gave her a Lysol disinfecting wipe, and she wiped the wiggly plucked chicken with the affection and care it should be given.
Everybody else was watching and acting weirdly reverent as Tempest rubbed him over good. Tempest said now he’s shiny like a wiggly plucked chicken should be—and then she kissed it right on the beak.
Next Entry ... September 24: A Kicking Of Asses