My students are active, normal boys. Their desks and chairs make attractive and irresistible equipment for activities other than the purposes for which they were designed. No matter how often they hear, “Four on the floor or you’ll write some more,” at least once a week one “forgets.” Sometimes the absence of memory is coupled by a spectacular display of clumsiness. To date no one has been seriously injured.
Because I have a multi-grade classroom the older students enjoy the benefits of the younger students’ incentives. First Graders who complete all their week’s Daily Work assignments, turn in their homework every day, and receive no disciplinary sentences on Friday are treated their choice of small delight from the “Treasure Box.” I keep it stuffed with such things as high-bouncing balls, balsa wood gliders, fancy erasers, and tornado tubes. A chart and stars help to keep track of who is on-track with his work and will be taking a trip to the Treasure Box.
By the Third and Fourth Grade, completing school work has become an expectation without these rewards. Still, they are a part of the classroom, so it seems good that they should be included, too. So an extra expectation was added for their sakes. That is, the week starts with the assumption that each of the older students will set a good example and that by the end of the week the chart will show he has a star in the area marked for “Responsibility.” Thus, each week the two older students must work to maintain not only their good study habits as do the younger students; they must also set a good example. They must not lose their Responsibility Star by having demonstrated something to the younger class members they would have been better served by not learning.
It can be a daunting task. They are even learning that they can be held ultimately responsible for the actions of others through what they say and what it instigates.
Today one of the older boys rocked his chair, immediately received sentences, and within five minutes swung himself between a table and chair. Uh, oh… “Ooops…sorry, Buddy, you just lost it.” He turned quietly, and said, “Uh, yeah, Deaconess. I guess I did.” Nothing more needed to be said.
After the sentences were written (“Tipping my chair is dangerous to my body”; First Commandment; Fifth Commandment), the youngster read them through- one for each year of age, then recited the Commandments. We talked for a moment, and he said, “I guess I just lost my head.”
That’s when it struck me how true the idiom really is. By not keeping the First Commandment we have no Head. We are of the generation that hates God because we cannot fear, love, and trust Him above all things. A headless body is and does according to the ways of those who have lost their head- like Granny’s chicken in the barnyard after she’s set the ax to its neck. Sin follows upon sin.
“But He promises grace and every blessing to those who love and trust in Him.” This has been fulfilled for us in Christ and given to us in Baptism. It is there the headless ones receive a Head once more, and are now those who can gladly do what He commands.
Will the kid tip his chair again? I’m not holding my breath. I do know he knows the idiom differently- and rightly- now.