January 24, 2008

It's kind of mean to call kids dumb. Most of them are still growing up and learning new things. But there are a few middle schoolers I know who would have a tough time in a battle of wits against a crayon.

After the students are done with their homework in my tutoring program, they like to hang around and play games. Last week, 2 kids decided to play Connect 4. To protect their identities, we'll call them Student A and Student B. Both are 8th graders, and they both know the rules of the game. They decide to keep win-loss records to see who is the better player. Student B just dominates Student A. At one point, his record was 31-3. They decide to play until Student A gets 5 wins. (At this point, I told them I had to leave in an hour, but I'll let them play until then if needed.) The final score was 45-5. Student B and I were even trying to give Student A tips and little clues, but it didn't do much good. At least they had fun playing.

Today, Student A and Student B decide to play again. This time, Student B only had 21 wins by the time Student A got his 5. You would think Student A is learning a bit more about the game. Then they decide to make up some a weird rule for a few games. You can put 3 of the checkers in at one time. Most people will realize that as long as you go first, there is no way you should ever lose. Yet today, I witnessed the impossible. Student B went first and easily won the first round. For the next game, Student A went first, placed 3 red pieces in, then watched as Student B placed his 3 black pieces in. Then Student A somehow put in 3 more red pieces and did not connect 4 in a row. Unbelievable.

I'm just glad I didn't get the Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? game for my room. It might be demoralizing to some of the students.

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