I’m continuing my theme of “kids say the darndest things” today with a moment that still makes me laugh and shake my head. Sometimes the ways that kids misunderstand words are so ingrained that it’s almost impossible to get it turned around again.
I teach at an elementary school named for Horace Mann. Over the years, students (and some families) have struggled with the spelling and/or interpretation of the name of our building. I’ve received many notes and emails, pictures and stories written about our school “Horse Man”. Adorable, when my first graders do it, but very hard to convince them that our school is named for a person named Horace, not a man on a horse! (It certainly doesn’t help that Horace’s last name was “Mann”–that just adds to the confusion!)
Nevertheless, I try every year to explain a little bit about how our school was named and who Horace Mann was. I show them the spelling and talk about first names and last names. I show them the difference between “horse” and “Horace”. We go outside at recess and notice the sign in front of our school. I usually think I’ve made a little headway, but one afternoon it was all undone…
We were out at recess, playing happily on the playground. Our school is located near a fairly busy street, so cars were passing back and forth as the kickball game continued. Suddenly we heard a new sound, something you don’t expect to hear in the middle of town. Yes…it was a man on horseback, clip-clopping right past our school.
Almost with one voice, my bunch of first graders roared as they ran to the fence to get a closer look–“THERE HE IS!! The guy our school is named after! It’s the HORSE MAN!”
I gave up.