Stump The Tutor, Premiere Edition.

It finally happened. Someone stumped me.

I always thought it would be one of my adult students, since most of them are visiting scholars, Korean professors who have come to UBC on exchange. These are some smart people. With them, I have discussed maxillofacial surgery, dental implants, French cuisine, cell phone technology, the effects of nanotechnology on air quality, the history of Western Europe, and the relative merits of communist and capitalist societies throughout the ages, among other things.

So who stumped me? A grade five boy whose teacher has some very strange ideas about Social Studies curriculum.

We have a tradition here in Vancouver. It’s not a rule, but, since we have an amazing museum devoted to the First Nations people on the West Coast, we study those people. We practice note-taking about these peoples’ foods, clothing, shelters, ways of life, transportation, and society. Then we go to the Museum of Anthropology and giggle at the carving of Raven and the First Men, where the men are nude and we can see bums and penises. By Grade Seven, it is a relief to stop note-taking about salmon, cedar, potlatches, and longhouses. We’ve mind-mapped and note-taken and poster-boarded the information so many times, we murmur the information in our sleep.

My student isn’t learning about the indigenous people of the coast. He’s learning about the Dunneza, a group of people who are decidedly un-coastal. Also, they’re a group of people who are not represented in the artifacts at the Museum of Anthropology.

I wonder if the teacher, too, was tired of salmon and cedar.

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