Today during social studies, I asked my fourth grade students, “What is a pioneer?”
No one had an answer, and I was not surprised. Elementary school teachers know that most kids do what the President of the United States does: act as if you know what is going on, even if you don’t. They even get that little look of confidence on their faces, the look that says, “I am feelin’ strong. I know this. No problemo. I’m in charge. Fear not. I’m just pausin’ so I can plan just how to express this in a way that will astound you.” Other kids drop their heads, their faces staring at the surface of their desk. They let everyone know they don’t have the answer and are already too open and honest to be President, at least not at this time in our country’s development.
I always give the kids some wait time before I provide the answer, and sure enough, at last, Thomas finally raises his lone hand up in the air. “Thomas, do you know what a pioneer is?”
Thomas grins and says, “A pioneer is a person who bakes pies.”
Everybody laughed, and I was so proud of Thomas. He is coming around. His timing, his delivery, everything was right on target. However, I approached him after the class and asked, “Was that your line, Thomas, or did you steal it from somebody?”
Thomas paused, and with shame on his face said, “Mr. R., I stole the joke from Sponge Bob Square Pants.”
“Yeah, but your delivery and timing are much better than Sponge Bob’s, you are a heck of a lot better looking, and your joke got a great laugh from me and the students.”
Thomas’ pride in his comedic accomplishment returned, and I expect more good punch lines from him in the future, even if they might be “stolen,” a la Milton Berle.