Tuesday, September 1, 2009


I don't remember what the assignment was, but I'm betting the teacher was probably not wanting to have to look at this. Art teachers would always stand up in the front of the class and say stuff, and no one would ever listen. Everyone just drew what they wanted regardless of the assignment.

In this particular class I remember the teacher was very easy-going. He pretty much let us do whatever we got an inkling to do. He had jewelry making tools, clay, paint, wood, you name it, and he gave us free reign with it all. Even though it sounds as if he was a hands-off teacher, I learned more in his class than I ever learned in Geometry. He would just kind of hang around, give us quick answers if we had questions. Things like: "When you light the torch - turn on the gas 1st, light it, and THEN turn on the air." Stuff like that. "When you acid-etch something, try not to get it in your eyes." That sort of thing.

One day I was carving a log in this secluded little side room connected to the main art room. My buddy Mike was in there too. Then the teacher came in the room with what looked like a hair dryer and said, "This is a heat gun. It will go up to 700 degrees. You can use it to dry out the center of your log. If you don't get the moisture out the log will crack and split."

When he handed it to me, he added, "BUT! Be careful and keep it moving. DO NOT hold it in one spot for very long or it will start a fire."

Then he left.

He gave a fire-making tool to 2 high school kids. What was he thinking? Didn't he understand how kid-brains worked? We immediately turned it on and aimed it at one spot until our hands got tired. I remember saying, "He's a liar! It doesn't make fire!"

We tore little pieces of paper and stuffed them into the bark of the log, and blew the heat gun at them. After 3 or 4 minutes we saw little glowing flickers in the paper. That was the secret! We needed kindling to get this log burning! We added more paper and kept the gun trained right on it. Eventually POOF! All our efforts had paid off bountifully! We had a reasonably big fire going! I remember feeling almost proud, like the feeling I got when I won at Connect Four or Checkers. Mike was very happy about it too, and he nurtured and babied the fire so it didn't go out.

We didn't realize how much smoke we'd generated until the teacher barged back into the room, and yelled, "What did you do?!"

He ran out only for a moment and and then flew back in with a container of water and flung it onto my log. He even cursed us, which was a big shocking thing for a teacher to do back in high school.

I played innocent and asked, "Why did you throw water on it? I thought you said we needed to get the water OUT of it."

He never punished us, but he did give us the dirtiest look I can ever remember receiving from him.


  1. hmmm so you were one of those kids huh? i had an almost identical situation with a hands off teacher and lots of supplies. we had one kid who thought it would be fun to cover his hands in rubber cement and then light his hands on fire. it was unbelievable how badly he messed up his hands, the teacher was very very pissed.

  2. wow! rubber cement would be like napalm. that's insane!


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