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William's Problems by Dave MacCormack*

(*  - This is an untitled work I found in my room the other day, but I felt it needed a title (especially since I already have a work on my website (from 1998) with no title). Date: 1992)

            George, further to our conversation this morning I'll review things which have been happening with William.
            William is behind in his work.
Math -  We are doing dividing with decimals. By now he should be on page 274. Each one works at his / her own pace but I like to have them within one or two pages of each other so they benefit from interacting with each other.
- Catch up to 274
Reading:  I have been after him since Christmas to read a novel and then talk to me about it. He always has some excuse. I'd prefer not to be too Draconian when it comes to reading. I'd like to discuss his reading with him but he is not cooperative.
Writing. He hasn't completed any writing assignments. Again there is always some excuse. Most of his classmates have at least 5 or 6 pieces of writing in their folders. It is very difficult to encourage freedom of choice and creativity when he is not cooperative.
- complete a novel and one reading activity on it
- complete one piece of creative writing, story, poem, etc.
Health -  We are doing chapter 6 "How you stay safe." He had a written assignment "Taking Action" on page 122 for Monday. I gave him a day's grace but when he did not have it done today I kept him in at recess. When he still did not have it done I kept him in at noon. You can see in his health scribbler what answer he gave.
- complete the assignment with a good paragraph
French We are working on Leçon 4. - le verbe avoir. He is doing reasonably well in comprehension. He does have difficulty following directions for games and role plays. - Study and be cooperative.
Social Studies -  He is working on a research project using his textbook and the class atlas on Sorfjord, Norway. He is working with Patrick MacDonald. This is nearly all done in class.
- Be cooperative.

            William is very capable of doing the work. Most times he is seeking attention especially negative. Whenever I get into an indept conversation as to why he is not doing his work the usual response is to talk about his problems. He does not want to hear any solutions or ways to cope. One day he even covered his ears when I suggested that the problem of not doing his homework was because he wouldn't take his homework pad out of his bookbag to read it. He seems to dwell on the negative always - "oh woe is me" For the past month his usual excuses for not doing his working or for acting out (after a talk) are:
- I didn't have time last night. I had to go _____ _____ . We didn't get home until late.
he was not held responsible for these { - Tenny* didn't give me my homework until this morning.
- Tenny put my homework in the mailbox but I didn't look there.
- Tenny wouldn't take my homework.
- I was upset this morning because my parents were on my case about hurrying up.
- This school does not meet my learning needs.
- You teachers don't know anything.
- This is stupid.
- Norman said that it was my birthday.
- Thomas made a face at me.

Brenda and George, I hope you do not mind my being so candid. I'm at my wits end. I don't know where to go to reach him. I really like William. He has many good qualities and talents. These are not being developed and nurtured as well as they could be because of his behaviour problems.

             I don't think there is any quick solution. However, while we are working on his behaviour he should not be allowed to fall behind in his grades. (then he would have two problems).
            I hope this somewhat explains what has been going on.


P.S. After I wrote this William asked me if I was going to call home. I said I had been talking to you. This set him off and he was so upset he spent the afternoon with Mr. Yates and Ms. Thistle**.

* - "Tenny" refers to Tennyson, my second cousin who lived nearby.
** - Mr. Yates - Principal; Ms. Thistle - Guidance Councellor. It ought to be noted that she replaced Ms. Thorn. If the current councellor turns out to be Ms. Rose - well, I think that would be really neat.

I tried to trace down Mr. MacCormack's current whereabouts, but all I could find was that he went on to be principal of St. Peter's Bay Elementary School. His current position is unknown. I'm assuming he retired. I kind of want to flame him about giving me such a hard time - like for stuff like keeping me in - who the heck should presume to do that? I'm my own bloody person, with my own rights and my own agenda. I go where I choose to be, so let me go outside and pretend I'm an airplane. Let me make my own damn choices, because I make good ones too: I choose to volunteer at the hospital. I choose to write stories and screenplays. I chose to leave high school with High Honours. I chose to have 300 people give me a standing ovation and shout "Will! Will! Will!" for minutes on end, and I chose to have two more sets of 300 people do the same thing. I chose to clean my room to find this wonderful bit of prose. And I chose not to do a lousy Grade 5 Health Assignment. So sue me. I also think my parents were total idiots at the time. Mr. MacCormack just wanted some letters and digits to translate into more letters and digits on a report card. My parents were far worse.

I chose to change my attitude and start doing things with my life because I wanted to, not because some stupid institution like school or family made me. I refuse to be forced into anything by anyone, sometimes to the point of absurdity, and I promise all of you that I will continue to do that. I choose to be 'irreverent' because I have things to say that need to be said. It's not my fault I'm the one of the only voices of sanity in the Maritimes. You people can go ahead and think that what I do is inadequate, but I've got plaques, newspaper clippings, and certificates that say it is. At the risk of sounding immature, bugger off.

Most common Mr. MacCormack quote: "Life isn't just fun and games." That I believe is true - but if you're going to say that to the William of the early-to-mid 90's, he's just going to tune you out. And you ought to let him. I evolve on my own based on trial-and-error testing, and I don't need a bunch of people who think they have some sort of 'authority' over me involved mucking it all up. I don't need teachers, and I don't need parents, and I don't need my lousy web host support person bitching at me about my bitching over their pricing structure. (I don't need Kumari Campbell yelling and screaming at me, either.) I do have use for lecturers and a roof over my head, and a place to dump my files, but that's about it. Who the heck has the arrogant presumption to care about "what has been going on?" Leave me alone!

I think hard work makes the world go around, but the operative words are "I think." I came to that conclusion without any of your help, and frankly, all the interference in the world would only have slowed my development even further. So why don't you all drink a tall glass of Shut Up Juice and let me be!

[image of giant neon pink middle finger]

A tad harsh, probably. Even this 2003 rebuttal shows me that I still have problems accepting the fact that people are going to judge me. Also, Mr. MacCormack was just doing his job, and he did want all of us to succeed.

No, I haven't heard from him yet. You can bet I'll shiver when I see his name land in my Inbox, though.

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