I was trying to wait until I reached 100 posts before I did this. You know, like in television, your series used to have to reached 100 episodes before you could go into syndication ands reruns. But I figure with my bad paw, I have a bit of an excuse. (It’s getting much better, but I go see the hand surgeon guy tomorrow to get the official word.) And the kids were bugging me about the cage today. I’ll be back to posting regularly soon; we’re reading another Ray Bradbury classic, “The Earth Men,” and it’s been fun.

So here we go, and to paraphrase words of an old NBC promo, if you haven’t read it, it’s new to you. From September 26, 2008,

The Tom Sawyer Syndrome (Flashback)

“If he had been a great and wise philosopher, like the writer of this book, he would now have comprehended that Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do, and that Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do.”

That’s Mark Twain’s famous observation after Tom Sawyer has scammed the town kids into whitewashing his fence for him, and paying him for the pleasure.

We won’t be getting to Tom Sawyer until January, probably, but in seventh grade, we live aspects of Tom Sawyer every day. In this case, it’s about Punishment vs. Play.

One of my classes was getting a little sporty the other day, and in frustration, I forgot that I had told myself I wouldn’t do that any more, and I threatened to go old school on them and put one of them in the cage.

“What?” they all laughed.

“I went to 12 years of Catholic school, baby. Kneeling on pencils (that story later), nose in the circle on the chalkboard, rulers on the backs of the hands and knees, cages…”


I pointed to the ball cage I scrounged a few years ago, and keep in a corner of my room. Right now it has some shtuff in it that I haven’t unpacked from last spring when it all went in there to postpone dealing with it, and to get it all out of the way of the summer custodian. It’s about 2ft wide by 3 ft high by 4ft deep, and it’s on casters. It’s one of those things they wheel out at lunch, full of kickballs and basketballs and such.

Several years ago, when I had a couple periods of 8th grade, and they were getting a bit nutty, I threatened to throw a couple of them in the cage and lock it for the rest of the period. Of course, almost every boy in the class immediately volunteered to be in the cage.

“HAHAHAHA, I said, but now it wouldn’t be punishment; you’ve taken all the fun out of it. ” They now start to offer money to be put in the cage. Or even better, they start saying things like, “I promise I’ll be good for the whole period if you let me be in the cage.”

After a couple of days of this, I finally relent. I let two of them crawl in there 15 minutes or so before the first bell in the morning. It’s a tight fit. We then wheel them out into the quad. It’s the height of the morning rush, and right away, the cage draws a large crowd. Kids start poking at the two of them gently, and offering bits of food from the cafeteria. The boys in the cage are literally eating it up.

They stay out there for at least 10 minutes before the crowd gets too big, and I wheel them back into the classroom. After they crawl out, one volunteers to go back in during 3rd period, and a bunch more are lining up behind for the same privilege.

So, of course this bunch starts the same shtick. “C’mon…please? Let the RaffleKing decide if I can go in the cage?”