After Decherd Tennessee, my dad set sail, with us in tow to Pennsylvania, where I was pronounced a dullard. My time in the library in Tennessee had been adequate to drain my neo-cortex of enough synaptic connections so as to render me stupid..or so I was coming to believe. I was two grades behind in math and quickly gave up, under the frustrated gaze of a cute young math teacher who didn’t know how to bridge the gap in my learning and catch me up with her herd. I aquired the label of "remedial" in math and believed it and still do. I survived this school and found comfort in art class, where I seemed to excel. In this room my imagination and substantial life experience seemed to benefit me! The supply of rooms in schools, where kids are invited to bring their imaginations and keep them active, seemed to me remarkably low. Choir, band, drama and art seemed to be the only safe places to emerge from the stupor of compliance. As I look around me now I see hope, I see teachers using constructivist math to help kids with multiple intelligences understand and excel. I see teachers beginning to use real-world scenarios to make learning relevant. I have to add that teachers who use these approaches are sometimes in danger. Without hard fast proof that kids have memorized, long enough to pass a standardized test, their approaches are always suspect. I admire these brave souls and worry that they won’t out-survive NCLB. While I was in Pennsylvania at New Oxford Jr. High I was assigned a book report and given the option of building a device to show what I learned. I was earning a solid C/D in the class but this assignment lit me up. I took a cereal box and created a long story board with illustrations. As I rolled the coat hanger handle and scrolled through my report, the flashlight backlit my pictures. I like to think this was an early version of powerpoint. For this effort I received and A+, the last A I would make at New Oxford, that wasn’t in art. I longed for projects of this type and ever so rarely a teacher would loose the hounds and let us dream up something creative, usually a social studies teacher. Thank God for them! My cardboard cotton gin would still be in my possession if not for all the moves we made. This hands on learning matched the talents in my developing brain and provided it’s own incentive to learn. Over many years in my own art classroom I watched as the "bad kids" excelled at hands on learning. My colleagues most likely dismissed their A’s in art as easy curriculum, since they were failing in their classes. What I came to believe is that these kids are so marginalized by the system, that they give up. Better to be a rebel and a trouble maker who seems to want to fail, than a kid who cannot perform in the current construct. It’s a hop. skip and a jump from bad grades to behavior problems. These "trouble makers" were my people. We had few rules as I treated them like the adults they would legally be in one or two years. It was interesting to me that one year they had to ask permission to pee but next year they could die for their country. At 16, kids are closing Taco Tico and counting the money and locking up, then asking for permission pee in our schools. Are we undervaluing their experience? Are we dooming them to be followers who need permission to do anything?