Martin seems to have a natural love of, if not a talent for, mathematics. He does have a strange habit of adding zeros at the ends of numbers, “to make them hella bigger” (his words not mine). When I try to explain to him that adding these zeros actually markedly changes the equation at hand and will, in almost all cases, throw off the final answer and, in some cases, make a solution impossible, he twirls his pencil and smirks at me and says, “It’s my world and you’re just a dancing monkey, chump.” I don’t quite know what Martin means by this, but I get the gist, and I don’t like it. Also, Martin insists you can divide by zero, which is patently false.
Martin has a very high level of confidence in art class. Unfortunately, that confidence is wildly misplaced. He cannot draw very well at all, and flat-out refuses to paint because he “doesn’t like the way it smells.” When I suggested the other day that his giraffe looked more like a dog he smirked at me and said “It’s a giraffe if I say it’s a giraffe,” which, while an interesting philosophical claim, did not make the dog he was drawing actually look any more like a giraffe. I recommend Martin attempt to do the assignments I give him rather than just keep drawing dogs, which seems to be the only thing he ever does in class. Please contact me if you have questions or concerns or have ideas for how I might get him to actually participate in a constructive way in class and not just keep drawing shitty dogs.
It has been an interesting challenge to have Martin in class this year. While other students often try to mask the fact that they have not completed the reading for class by putting their heads down or answering some of the more intuitive, easier discussion questions, Martin’s aggressive participation seems to be unaffected by whether or not he has read the book, which he seems never to have done. He will, in fact, often offer intricate responses to my questions, complete with made-up character names and absolutely incorrect plot points (the other day he claimed that “Atticus Bunch” was an astronaut sent to space to kill a race of “poor, dirty old people” (his words, not mine) who lived on Mars. This, of course, is an incorrect summary of To Kill a Mockingbird). I get the sense that he simply enjoys hearing the sound of his own voice, and also that he has no shame.
As you know, Appleton Middle School teaches American History through a progressive lens, taking many of our lessons from Howard Zinn’s Young People’s History of the United States. While most of the students seem to be enjoying this approach, Martin has resisted this reading of history, claiming in the first lesson that Columbus was just “gettin’ what was his” and throughout the course he has maintained that the native tribes were “cruisin’ for a bruisin’” (his words, not mine). While we appreciate students expressing alternate views in class, Martin’s statements make the other students feel unsafe. Is there a good time for us to have a phone chat about how to work together to help Martin not be so very awful?
Martin flatly denies the existence of gravity, claiming it is by sheer will that he keeps himself rooted to the earth, and that the solar system revolves not around the sun as was scientifically proven by Copernicus in the 15th century, but around him, Martin Shkreli. I would love to be able to sit down and talk about where Martin is getting these ideas, as it will be impossible for him to grow, as a scientist or really as a human being in any meaningful way, while he continues to harbor these narcissistic and wholly incorrect views of the universe. Also why does his face always look like he’s peeing his pants just to spite everyone else in the room?
Young Martin has the tenacity and energy of a world-class athlete with absolutely none of the natural skill or necessary work ethic. What he lacks in ability and focus he makes up for in just slamming into the other kids until they acquiesce. When they start to cry, he simply smirks and runs away. If he were bigger or had any physical acumen I’d recommend he be a football linebacker, but as it stands, I assume he will have mastered some important skills for fending off attackers in prison, should he ever end up there, which there seems to be a good chance of, because he literally cheats at every game we play, including that game where you lift up the parachute all together and run underneath it, in which there are no winners and the point is for everyone to have fun. He is truly a terrible child, and I weep for a future when he is an adult with money and power.