I had the pleasure of spending an hour with two fourth-grade classes at Sunnyslope Elementary School on Thursday and, after being grilled with thoughtful and probing questions by the students, came away impressed. These kids are going places.
This was part of an enrichment program that brings speakers from the community into the classroom to help students make deeper connections with the working world and, hopefully, stimulate in some small way their interest in subjects they’ve not been exposed to.
They can ask some tough questions. I was told that the previous enrichment speaker was Shiloh Schauer, the aide to Sen. Linda Evans-Parlette. A student asked her how it felt to lose an election. They are direct.
The students, who have Lori Roley and Susan Nash as their teachers, were well prepared for me, as well. They wanted to know about the most challenging parts of my job, which is fielding calls from unhappy readers on occasion. We also talked about what makes a compelling news story and the process of writing and rewriting stories to improve them.
To show them how an essay or a news story might develop, I had them pick a topic (the Kendama craze that has exploded in the valley) and they brainstormed benefits and detriments of the game. They said it helped them improve physical dexterity and encouraged patience and perseverance. There’s also a social aspect to it as they work together to improve skills, which makes it far better than computer games.
They also came up with some negatives of thee game. Learning new tricks can be so all-consuming that playing can be an irritant to parents (and teachers).
Hanging out with fourth-graders was a great way to spend part of an afternoon.