jessica the viola player
@ February 4, 2009


What's cool in middle school?

            Apparently, educational puppet shows.


            Today in our English class, an assignment, given a week ago, was due. The project? Make a puppet show involving an original adventure for Tom Sawyer, a novel we recently completed. The puppets, ranging from sock to stick, elaborate to decrepit, were perhaps the most interesting cast Tom Sawyer has ever seen. Some had been hastily made the night before and glued to still-sticky Popsicle sticks. Others were well-washed and well-drawn, and a few even had real doll hair. 

            When the time to perform arrived, Ms. H set up a large box for hiding behind and called the first pair to present their show. On went the displays, some silly, some serious, and others outright ridiculous (Huck and Tom go off together, kidnap Becky Thatcher, and feed her to a polar bear, anyone?).

            Most notable was a stick puppet presentation involving a trip to Jackson's island, a falling tree, poorly done dialogue, and an incredibly high voice. Now, some background information is needed to grasp the enormity of the performance; D. O., the speaker and puppeteer, has perhaps the highest, strangest, and most annoying voice ever in the history of womankind. Naturally, she elected to raise her voice higher for the sake of the puppets, as well as throwing in screaming, giggling, crying, bird-imitating, and sword fighting. Setting the record for craziest puppet show in the history of middle school, D. O. proudly had C. E., a rather obnoxious boy, videotape the entire performance and donate it to the theater group. I suspect that the theater class will be enjoying themselves over the next few days, particularly the ones who have yet to read Tom Sawyer.

            Now, a single puppet show assignment would be poor justification for citing a rise in puppeteering. No, there is more; today, a history teacher assigned another puppet show, this time demonstrating the use of inventions made in the U. S. from 1780-1850. Each pair is assigned a single invention to demonstrate in front of the entire 8th grade. In addition, the theater group is considering a puppet PANTOMIME (how they intend to do that, I have no idea).

            So, right along with course-selection cards and boring textbook worksheets, middle schoolers are also required to show ability in puppeted performance. The unfairness rings true to everyone, at least, everyone who is absolutely idiotic, failing to realize that these shows waste valueless learning time for all. So live on, puppet shows, and continue to brighten our days.

                                                                                                            By Jessica, the viola player.


Wow. I'm so out of the loop as far as middle school curriculum.

Next week - orchestra puppet show! You figure it out.

You know what you should have done your puppet show about?

Tom forcing Nigger Jim to paint a fence, because he's a slave. And then Jim killing Tom, and escaping down the river with Huck Finn. And then they get caught and Jim gets lynched.

I bet that would have put an end to puppet shows based on the works of Mark Twain.

And obviously, the best choice for the invention is Eli Whitney's Cotton Gin (patented 1794). You can do a fun puppet show about how it perpetuated the institution of slavery, led to the Civil War, and top it off with the assassination of Abe Lincoln.

Jim, guess what? Next time you come to visit me in Houston, bring a video camera. Because WE ARE MAKING THAT PUPPET SHOW.

The Cotton Gin one? That sounds like a good idea. Sarah Vowell would be so proud of us if we did.

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