Monday, January 30, 2006

Chess Club Humor

I had Chess Club today, my grade 4-6 group. They are a bunch of rowdy boys who want to settle each chess game with a wrestling match. Elementary school boys constantly practice the social skills that will eventually become flirting -- a glance, a wink, an accidental brush of the hand-- but it tends to blow up into a free for all.

I was weary of trying to keep them in check. After worrying about Dean all weekend I was tired of trying to analyze boys and more interested in just appreciating them. I started to have a meeting to talk about future plans but I kept getting interrupted by giggles about the fact that John had rearranged some books to spell the word "poop".

I asked John to stand up and give us a one minute speech about why bathroom humor was funny. He was confused, but other kids wanted to volunteer, so we spent a while "tag teaming" a bathroom humor speech. Then I called for a Chess Club tradition: "Tell Mrs. Och a Joke" day.

I started with this one:

Little Red Riding Hood is skipping down the road when she sees a big bad wolf crouched down behind a log. "My, what big eyes you have, Mr.Wolf." The wolf jumps up and runs away.

Further down the road Little Red Riding Hood sees the wolf again and this time he is crouched behind a bush."My, what big ears you have, Mr. Wolf." Again, the wolf jumps up and runs away.

About two miles down the road Little Red Riding Hood sees the wolf again and this time he is crouched down behind a rock. "My, what big teeth you have, Mr. Wolf."

With that the wolf jumps up and screams, "Will you knock it off, I'm trying to poop!"

Someone told a "punny poop joke":
Q: Why was Spock searching Captain Kirk's bathroom?
A: He was looking for the captain's log.
Everyone told a joke, including some that didn't involve poop:
There were a surfer, a priest, and a blonde who were going to be left on a deserted island and they each got to bring one thing. The surfer brought water, the priest brought some food, and the blonde brought a car door. They asked the blonde "What are you going to do with a car door?" and she said "If we get too hot I'll just roll down the window."
The lady walked into the store and asked the clerk "Can I try on that dress in the window?"

"Sure," he said, "but you'll attract less attention if you try in on in the dressing room..."
Blonde jokes were popular. A new genre was sections of dialogue from current movies, although most of the time these weren't very funny, either because the kids didn't remember them that well, or they didn't understand them in the first place They just knew that everyone thought that those lines were funny. Kassy tried to tell the joke about the blonde astronaut that planned to fly to the sun but she said "moon" instead of "sun" so it didn't work. (They tell the blonde that she can't go to the sun because she'll burn up and she says "Duh. I'm going at night.")

It all served to remind me of what it's like to be a kid. There's always a joke that you don't quite get or can't quite tell straight. There's always something that seems easy for everyone else, but you struggle, and you don't know why.

We had oatmeal cookies for snack. Dividing the snack is always a task to figure out in Chess Club. Yesterday we had enough cookies so that everyone could have two and a half. To figure out the halves, I asked around until someone could come up with the "divide and choose" method, where one person divides the cookie into what he thinks is two equal portions, but the other one gets to choose which portion they want. Growing up in a large family, I always thought that everyone did things this way, but most of the kids in chess club had never heard of it. They figured out the ramifications almost immediately; if I gave a kid a cookie and told him to divide it he was eager, but as soon as he realized that his partner would be choosing, he'd drop it like a hot potato.

"Divide and choose" is a building block for a branch of game theory devoted to resource division. There are various ways to extend the process to more that two players, but they tend to become overly complicated. Still, they can be useful tools for mediation. I would like to try them with my chess kids as a way of tying game playing to life at large.


Qxh7# said...

Great post, your really funny

Qxh7# said...

Err.. You are really funny, even.