As I find myself back in the elementary classroom environment, I am changed, and yet, feelings of my six-year-old self resurface. I feel that my own childhood schooling has been a privileged one. I do not think this has to do with the name of the school I attended, although, in part, it is somewhat responsible; rather, I value the way that my class was able to stay together from kindergarten through the twelfth grade. We were a comparatively small school and knew each other well. There were no unknown faces to be found. This provided the foundation for lasting friendships. This is not to say that everyone got along, of course this would be highly unlikely and untruthful of me to claim, but there was a bond despite whatever the relationship may have been between two students. The bond was the consistency offered. The same people were always there and this alone made for a stable and privileged growing environment; aside from seeing the external, visible signs of growth amongst each another, we got to see the people we all became by the time graduation day was upon us.
When I am in the first grade classroom at St. Mary’s, I cannot help but think about my own past and my own schooling. I cannot help but compare and relate my experiences to what I am observing and taking part in on the Friday mornings I spend with the kids in Mrs. Ireland’s class. The decorative atmosphere reminds me of the fun I had at that age, it reminds me of the friendships we shared. I see the friendships both established and developing amongst the students at St. Mary’s. Even if these relationships do not last into old age or even adulthood, there is no doubt in my mind that these kids will never forget one another. Whether the relationship was one of friendship, malice, rivalry, or even indifference, these kids impact one another. One of the things I like best about my experiences at St. Mary’s is getting to see once again how kids interact with one another. Each relationship has its own unique dynamic. There are moments of kindness and generosity like when several students asked me if they could share their “secret decoders” with a fellow student that had had hers taken away so that she could finish her assignment before turning it in. There are also moments of hostility like when one boy teased that same girl for needing my help with her assignment after she was upset. Each student will have their moments, and it is important for them to butt heads every so often. This will add complexity to their relationships and will further their growth together. I was reminded of the kinds of friendships that emerge when two individuals grow up together in the relationship and history of Oilei and Bulbul.
Each knew the other before they became who they are as adults. The men grew up together and Oilei served as his friend’s protector (54). The shared history offers a great depth to their relationship. Relationships of this nature seem to include a sense of obligation or sense of attachment. There is a love for one another which has been cultivated over time. Just as Oilei cared for Bulbul as a boy, Bulbul was there to care for Oilei when he was suffering. Bulbul drove his friend all over so he could be treated by dottores in the hopes of finding a cure and relief from his pain (64). The use of humor in this novel also reminds me of the power humor has over the learning process.
Humor, contrasted to a more direct, straightforward approach, will challenge the recipient to take the meaning from what is being shared, or learnt. It becomes the student or reader’s job to pull what he or she can from a given work or lesson. Rather than being told information, devices such as cleverness, wittiness, or humor dare students to meet the truth of what is being said on their own. The absurdity or outlandishness of satire, like we have seen in the Grace article uses humor to make a point. Satire then has a double meaning, or a dual purpose. Satire is saying that which is the opposite of what it is doing in a given work. This indirect way of making a point allows for the point to be even stronger because the reader must discover the true meaning of the work on his or her own.