Posted by: krusty505 | June 7, 2011

Scrappy is a Master

It always amazes me the strategies the guys develop to compensate for their lack of reading skills. For instance, we all do this number: we see a word that we don’t recognize (for me it’s invariably a name, usually foreign, that I can’t pronounce), so we make a mental note of what it looks like, and every time we see that word, we recognize it in context but never really and truly know it. Right? Like how many of us can really read the President of Iran’s name, for instance?

Anyway, the guys at the jail take this to another level entirely. There is a raft of words that they can’t pronounce, but that they recognize in context and can answer questions about without ever really knowing them. It’s pretty amazing to watch the selections on our web-based reading program zing by at 395 words per minute (for those of you who don’t realize how fast this is; it’s almost two pages a minute in an average novel, pretty fast) and to realize that they are not only keeping up, they are doing about a zillion work arounds because they have such poor literacy skills.

We have this one guy, Scrappy (he used to be Short Fat Scrappy, but the original Scrappy got out, so he graduated to just Scrappy). He’s called Scrappy because he loves to ‘scrap’ with the other inmates. I guess he’s pretty good, too, because he’s choked out a couple of guys who are pretty tough. In fact, he came in the other day bragging about how he choked out Chunks and made him “poop in his oranges.” I gave him a questioning look when he made this declaration, and he said and I quote, “Nah, Coach, that’s no bullshit. I bet my mamma’s ass on it. Ask him yourself. He’ll tell you. He pooped a little. If he says it’s not true, he’s a liar.”

Well, Scrappy made it to the Mastery level this week, and Scrappy is the king of work arounds! Out loud he can’t read his way out of a wet paper bag, but damn, he can read silently at an alarmingly fast rate. I think I mentioned it before, but the Air Force Academy requires all it’s cadets to make it through the same reading program to Mastery level and read 400 wpm because they have to read so much at the academy, so our students are really stoked when they can equal those Air Force Academy pukes. Scrappy was so proud of himself that he danced around my room for several minutes; there’s nothing quite like watching a guy who is 5 feet tall and 5 feet wide dancing in nothing but oranges in the jail in your classroom with 15 other unsavory characters egging him on. It’s a pretty amazing sight. Anyway he came over to me with an arm outstretched, and for a second I thought he was going to choke me out and make me poop, but he put one fat arm around my head and neck, gave me a squeeze and said, “Thanks, Coach, I’m pretty happy! Now, give me my candy!” (They get a king size candy bar for finishing the program)

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