Yes, I Get the Irony


My brilliant idea of the day is a paper airplane contest, slated for eighth period today, in which the students learn some vaguely useful vocab about cutting and folding, make a bunch of airplanes, and then compete for distance and flight time.

Why? Because I accidentally printed sixty copies of Henri Lefebvre’s Rhythmanalysis: Space, Time, and Everyday Life.

I intended to read this work of urban geography on the recommendation of one of the Fulbright research scholars who presented at our spring conference a few weeks back. Her suspicion of the traditional critical approach—interrogation, diagnosis, contextualization; the text as adversary—sat nicely with my feelings about how things tend to analogize things,™ and in an email she suggested I check out this Lefebvre guy, so I found a PDF of his book online, hit print, and left the office for an hour to go teach.

What I’m saying is, the print wizard was still set to sixty, the number of handouts I normally make for my students.

I returned to the office to find our vice principal gesturing at the overheating printer. He’d already had to put in one fresh stack of paper. Now 800 pages were piled up in the output tray, and he wanted to know how long this darn document is, we’re running low on toner.


I can’t print again on the other side of the paper, because all 800 pages were double-sided. So, paper airplanes it is.


The most mindless of my class ideas tend to go the best. Flying paper planes in the parking lot, we drew an audience of kids from the high school next door’s PE class, the ones who’d been eliminated early in whatever sports bracket they were doing. The science teacher brought her class outside too, apparently just to have a chat in the sunshine, and it occured to me that this was the first evidence anyone other than my students and coteacher had seen of my teaching activities. Is a paper airplane class admissible?

The winner, in both the distance and flight time contests, succeeded by crumpling his paper into a very dense sphere and throwing as hard as he could.