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Entry 13 -- A Time for Argument

You only have to take health in ninth grade and then you are done with it. Our teacher was an old and balding guy with a pink face and tired eyes. I usually am pretty skeptical when people say that teachers are time servers, but I think that would describe Mr. Hammond, our health teacher.

We went through the usual "this is how this class works lecture," and then it got interesting, but not in a good way. He started by defining health according to some big name organization. I think this was the WHO but I don't know. Maybe the [WHO] is an association of health teachers. That would make sense since it would give health teachers plenty to teach about and talk about that was not controversial like teaching about contraception which is good to know for future reference (After all who wants to get a girl pregnant and then have to support the baby.) or body odor or zits which are gross but which are the kind of health problems most fourteen year olds have.

Face it, most fourteen year olds are pretty healthy. That's where this crazy definition of health comes in to change all that. Health, according to Mr. Hammond and the WHO is mental, physical, spiritual, and social well being. I looked around and figured that half the class of ninth graders was now incredibly sick. In terms of economics even without algebra though it would be better if it had algebra, Mr. Hammond and the WHO had just increased the demand for health services by creating more sick people.

Of course if Mr. Hammond didn't use this crazy WHO expression, he'd wind up with a class full of healthy kids who have no need of a health course. Mr. Hammond said our first unit would be mental health. That meant craziness or crazy people. Of course really crazy people or people with mental health problems are locked up or they get medication and it fixes the problem so they can live normal lives. Stasch, my little brother is mentally ill. He has ADHD, but since his meds keep it under control, I don't know if I'd want any one to think of him as sick. Of course if people get cured or restored to health then they don't make demand for health teachers or doctors.

I wish I had a way to challenge Mr. Hammond's definition but he has to fill up a health class and maybe the State Board of Education or the people who publish our health textbook use that definition too. I wonder if any one took a bribe from the doctors, especially the shrinks for creating that definition.

I was still thinking about that by the time I got to biology lab. One of the shy girls from my geometry class had to ask if we were going to dissect frogs. The teacher said we'd start dissections in November and work up to verebrates by around Christmas time. Another girl announced she was not dissecting any animals.

"They're dead all ready!" Atalaya blurted back.

"Yes, but it's the idea, cutting up animals is not educational."

"How are you going to see what their insides look like then?" asked Koli.

"There's computer models and diagrams," answered the girl righteously. Several of her friends backed her up.

Koli was unfazed. "But that's not the same as real guts."

The girls giggled. Koli has what people here call a mountain accent. It comes out when she argues passionately.

The teacher told both sides to quiet down. We were making models of molecules and drawings anyway. One of the girls asked Koli if these were the same as real molecules. Koli answered that real molecules were too small to see except with an electron microscope. One good thing about Koli is that she does her homework.

I liked making molecules. I wish I knew the real chemistry behind them but that is not until next year.

Somehow that left me arriving for French in a good mood. French is our club and soon we will have a French Club for real. The only problem was our teacher was not in a good mood. She caught Koli and me doubled up at one computer.

"Nous preferons qu voire les autres etudiants demonstrent," I pleaded. In a real classroom after all, we'd be hearing what the others said and getting to see them perform at the board. I had to slip back in to English to get this point across. I really did feel the teacher was being unfair. I felt I had to stick up for the way we did things also because it helped us learn better.

Oddly enough, I won the argument. The French teacher said she felt sorry for the eight of us who were stuck out there in Greenup with no French teacher. It made learning a language so hard. She admired our dedication.

Only Koli was dissatisfied. "Les montangues sont mon pays!" she declared. I could see she was nearly ready to cry. Koli like most of the old people kids or mountain kids puts up with a lot of garbage. People think she's dumb unless they know what she can do in class. She's also not dirt poor any more or maybe never was. Her parents both work in the factories in town. Koli's parents I think also both graduated from high school. Stereotypes suck.

I was sorry when French was over. I was sorry the day was over. It felt weird to ride home alone without Stasch on my bicycle handlebars because the school had interfered. What kind of stereotypes did they have about ordinary working people who didn't have fancy college degrees like my parents? I tried not to think about that.

I stopped in the kitchen and found there were no more peppers and no olives. Aunt Aliza had to go buy groceries. I found a pear and ate that. Stasch was fixing himself bread and butter and toady there was Hawaiian Punch which to Stasch is the good kind of juice. Aunt Aliza must have had work in the shop because she had left Stasch with me.

"You going to read to me while I work on your bike?" I asked.

"Dad says you're going to have to drill a new hole for a seat screw," he reminded me.

"I know," I said, "but that will only take a minute. You're going to be sitting a bit lower, but it's safer for you anyway," I added. I'll also fix up your seat so it doesn't chafe you all up. You like that?"

Fixing up Stasch' seat would take some extra vinyl. I figured I could get it from dad and Ronald.

We headed down to the shop. The back of the shop is my workshop area for fixing bikes and broken toys and building kites. Everyone needs a hobby or a break from studying is the way I see things. I have a hard time explaining to my dad that I don't just want to fix and build things for a living.I want to know how they are made and also speak a second language.

I stuck Stasch' bike in the rack so it wouldn't wobble and removed the seat. Both holes that held the bolts that kept the seat in place had gotten too big and warped and wobbly. The solution was new holes measured to bolts we had in the extra odds and ends box. I got the box and began to rummage through it. I tried not to think what a late night this would be because I had axioms to memorize and problems to do for geometry, more verbs and vocabulary for French. Vocabulary is much harder than grammar. An easy econ assignment in that fluffy book and of course more of the Fountainhead and the second half of a chapter on biochemistry for biology.

I lead one very busy life sometimes.

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