Being the class goof-off / wise guy got me an “F” junior year in Spanish. I saw it coming and told Grace & Jack that Mr. Kottler was going to flunk me despite my getting passing grades on the tests. You see, when I was a freshman in high school, it was the first year ever that freshmen could take Spanish I. Up until 1964 educators thought taking a foreign language was too difficult to learn until you were at least 15. By my junior year I was in Mr. Kottler’s Spanish III class and in my senior year it was going to be the first time ever Mr. Kottler could teach a Spanish IV class – and he had been making great plans for Spanish IV for four years – and he didn’t want me in it to ruin it no matter how well I did in Spanish III.
Well, when I informed my parents I was flunking they insisted I go to a tutor; so I did, but the first tutoring session resulted in the tutor sending a note home:
“Andy really knows his Spanish – he won’t flunk – no need for more tutoring.”
But guess what I did with that Note (besides giving it to Grace & Jack), I used it to justify becoming an even bigger goof-off – and, of course, I flunked and had to take summer school (but no Spanish IV senior year).
But that’s not the end of this story:
Two years later my younger sister is in Kottler’s Spanish class and she is his best student ever (i.e., he didn’t hold a grudge just ‘cos her name). She was so good he sponsored her becoming an AFS student in Bogota, Columbia, her junior year – which led to her bringing back a Columbian boyfriend, dropping out of high school, negotiating to get her HS diploma, attending Goddard College in VT., taking the Ken Kesey course touring the SW, meeting the mailman in Prescott, AZ, dropping out of Goddard, enrolling at the Prescott School of Music, dropping out of Prescott, moving in with me doing Streetwork in Phila., getting Antioch College Without Walls to give her a college degree just based on her life’s experiences, enrolling at M.I.T. and designing her own course work, writing a book with Noam Chomsky, and probably being the most-degreed person in the Country who never attended a regular class after sophomore year in high school.
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