Jim Ott's Blog

This blog is a collection of columns I've written for Bay Area News Group newspapers serving the East San Francisco Bay region.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Summer school students share what they once believed

This column was published July 24, 2014 in the Tri-Valley Times. 

As summer school comes to an end, students in my class at Las Positas College can be proud of their good work researching and writing about topics such as racism, immigration, gay rights and other social justice issues.

My students also wrote reflectively in their journals in response to a variety of prompts, some serious and some lighthearted, such as when they wrote about and then shared misconceptions they believed when they were little. With students' permission, here are some highlights:

Norris said he used to think the prices posted at gas stations represented the whole tank of gas. "When I turned 16 and filled up my first tank, I was stunned how expensive it was," he said.

When Ryan was 8, his older sister told him girls did not have bowel movements. He was 12 when he learned the shocking truth and realized his sister had managed to keep up the lie for four years.

At age 5, Emily believed her middle brother was adopted because he didn't look like other family members. She was told this by her older brother, Alex. Whenever her mom reassured Emily that Alex was just joking, Emily still believed Alex, assuming her mother was just being nice so her "adopted" brother wouldn't feel bad. Emily believed this until middle school.

Milton was convinced for several years he had seen dogs driving a car, and he was also quite sure that for a full minute he had seen Santa Claus traveling on his sled through the sky.

Ahmed believed the moon followed him as he walked, and he believed he could fly because he had a vivid dream about this. He tested out his flying by jumping off a table, which fractured a bone in his foot.

Ahmed also believed that cameras were everywhere throughout his house. "My father told me this to make sure I behaved," he said. "Even when later I knew it wasn't true, I still had that little bit of doubt."

Sonder believed that the once-popular trading cards featuring Garbage Pail Kids represented real children.

Allie believed stepping on a crack would, in fact, break her mother's back, and she also believed lifting your feet when driving over railroad tracks brought good luck.

Several students believed crocodiles can come up through toilets.
Kate believed, as her uncle told her, that earwigs could crawl in and eat your brain.

Richie believed that actors who died in movies actually died.

Itzel believed girls could get pregnant by carrying a backpack backward on their fronts.

And finally, Chloe believed that freckles were angel kisses.

Thanks to all my students for making this summer session one of the best ever!

Melissa and Ryan paused for this photo just after acting a scene from Taming of the Shrew