14 May 2015


Theme Thursday 14

Having accepted the 2015 CLEAR the TBR Challenge, I assumed that CLEARING the Theme Thursday list would go hand in hand with it. After all, doesn't it make sense to kill two birds with one stone to feed two birds with one hand by matching the TBR book to the latest theme? Well, yes it does . . . but where, my soul cries out, is the randomness in that?!?! Knowing what the next theme is, is bad enough. Knowing what book the next theme will come from is even worse.

And that's why I was thrilled when a short story that I hadn't planned to read online this week surprised me with a snippet that is perfect for the theme from 23 March 2011 . . .

Today's Theme:

Some of the school buildings are grotesque. We asked about one particular building which seemed to us to be flamboyant and in bad taste. "What do you expect from second-grade children?" they said. "It is well built even if of peculiar appearance. Second-grade children are not yet complete artists of design."

This snippet is from the short story The Primary Education of the Camiroi by R.A. Lafferty, which was published in his collection Nine Hundred Grandmothers. It's about what a visiting delegation from Earth find on Camiroi when they arrive to inspect its schools. Had I known about Camiroi when I was doing Unschooling Settings for Locus Focus, it would have been a shoo-in!

The best part of getting to choose this excerpt is knowing that it's not merely a random part of the story that happened to fit the theme, but a perfect representation of the conflict. On the one hand, you'd certainly give the second graders terrible marks for designing the most garish building that you've ever seen . . . but on the other hand, how many second graders do you know who could design and construct a building safe enough for daily use? To think of such an achievement in terms of marks on a card would be to miss the whole point.

So . . . did you get to build something when you were in Grade Two? And if you can cast imagination back with memory, what kind of building would your second-grade self have designed for your school?

Image Source: Nine Hundred Grandmothers by R.A. Lafferty


Star Crunch said...

My nephew is just shy of that age and totally obsessed with Legos. When I last saw him around Christmas, he would (randomly) get extremely angry when he couldn't quite get something built. This makes me leery of putting a second grader in charge of something bigger. :D

Dates are fuzzy, but I remember when quite young intending to cobble together a bunch of boards, extension cords, and other things sitting around, to make a gondola lift between the Norway pines in our backyard. (Surely tree forts were planned, as well.) Thankfully I got distracted by other things, because I don't think my craftsmanship would have held up!

As far as design sensibilities, I also remember wanting to construct a triceratops-shaped vehicle and roam around town.

Enbrethiliel said...


If my second-grade self had been asked for input on a school building, one thing is for certain: there would have been slides, chutes, and fireman's poles alongside the usual stairs! =D

As for vehicles, anything with a built-in firearm would have been fine. LOL!

The Primary Education of the Camiroi is wildly optimistic about what second-grade children are actually capable of, but it still holds up as a satire. =)

Star Crunch said...

The vehicle / firearm comment stirred something in my mind. Having given it some thought, I seem to recall wanting to mount a cannon on the triceratops...

Also, I've been back home for something, so I got to see the aforementioned nephew's latest masterpieces. One of his more alarming questions, in reply to some comment of mine: "What does 'stable' mean?"

Enbrethiliel said...


Well, as long as you trust your life only to those things that he built after he asked that question, you should be okay! =O