Hunger Is the Best Pickle

Dante had the ability to be in the honors class for 11th grade English,  but he couldn’t stay quiet.  He called out in class, interrupting the teacher and annoying the studious kids intent on earning A’s.   So he was demoted to my class of average students.  Lucky me.

Paraphrasing a quotation known as a “critical lens”  was on the agenda the day Dante appeared.  Crossing my fingers, I gave an assignment that was a little challenging,  asking the students to interpret a quotation ascribed to Benjamin Franklin:  Hunger is the best pickle.  I put  the kids in groups, ostensibly to discuss the quote, but actually to make noisiness acceptable.  I knew they’d be talking about everything except the quotation.  I pretended to pounce on Dante’s group, and of course, bright light that he was, he came up with a reasonable interpretation.  I don’t remember what he said. It didn’t matter.  I just wanted an excuse to praise him.

I made kind of a big deal over this,  asking Dante to repeat his answer to the entire class.    Another boy in the group echoed my praise, announcing that Dante had been really good at explaining the puzzling quote.

Whew!  What I’d done could have backfired, but luck was with me.  Dante was never a problem in my class.  His hunger for praise was the only pickle needed.


7 thoughts on “Hunger Is the Best Pickle

  1. Rickey Marks January 18, 2015 / 8:18 pm

    Creative solutions to things that need not be problems! Why didn’t they give you the honors class??????


    • Jackie January 19, 2015 / 8:39 am

      Thanks Rickey. But luck played a big role in that solution. Better to be lucky than good.
      Teachers often have more than one preparation. That year I was teaching a senior class for AP English as well.


  2. Marlena Baraf January 19, 2015 / 1:10 am

    Lucky Dante! Hey teach, we want more!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Nancy Flanagan January 20, 2015 / 11:23 am

    What a great post from an inspiring teacher!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Eileen Palma January 21, 2015 / 7:26 pm

    Love this piece! I taught a few “Dantes” over the years, and they were always my favorite students. The ones who have an innate intelligence that just needed to be coaxed out mixed in with lots of praise.


  5. Jackie January 22, 2015 / 7:33 am

    So happy you liked the piece Eileen. Thank you for stopping by the blog. I loved reading your book Worth the Weight. A terrific upbeat novel to brighten anyone’s day.


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