Memories of a Forth Grade AIM Class

Despite repeated emails and Christmas cards that continually expound the details, I can’t seem to regurgitate my parents’ plans for Christmas except in the most general terms. I’m expected in Medicine Hat on Sunday? Food will be eaten? Religious differences will be tolerated? The important details just don’t stick in my mind.

However, ask me which questions I couldn’t answer on my 4th grade aptitude test to see if I qualified for AIM, and boy, do I have a list for you!

For the record, I didn’t answer “Christopher Columbus” because my fellow test taker, Christine, who finished it the day previous, told me, “contrary to popular belief it was Captain James Cook that discovered America.”

Why WOULDN’T I believe her? And to be honest, I don’t even know if Columbus is the answer they were looking for—what about the Vikings? And while we’re at it, do the First Nations people count for anything?

Don’t lose any sleep over it. I got into AIM anyway.

In case you’re curious, AIM was this once-a-week afternoon program they had for students who were high achievers. While my peers at George Davidson were learning about the First Nations (Native American Indians as they were called then) and the settlement of Western Canada, I was busy across town learning advanced science, math, and computer skills.

In AIM they taught us about negative numbers, statistics, and among other things how to use a word processor—this was a pretty big deal considering that in 1988 most people hadn’t even heard of word processors. I still remember typing away in front of those state of the art monochrome green monitors. Our teacher Mr. Freeman insisted typing would be a useful skill later in life. Who knew he’d be so right?

And even though this might sound pretty cool, I hated AIM.

One of my complaints was that I wasn’t interested in learning how to type. Computers were for games! and as any 9 year old of that time will testify, learning about home row is significantly less entertaining than Lode Runner.

They also demanded too much homework. Any extra homework, is too much. The weekly afternoon assignments at AIM more than doubled my load for the entire week. And to make matters worse, I was completely stressed out that I wouldn’t do a good job.

Homework wasn’t the worst part though.

The worst part was that none of my regular teachers had ever gotten around to teaching cursive handwriting. Mr. Freeman, liked to mix his chicken scratching with cursive shortcuts. Basically I was in a class of geniuses and I when it came time to read our homework off the board, for all intents and purposes, I was illiterate. Talk about HUMILIATING.

Mr. Freeman wasn’t exactly understanding either. There were a few of us in the same boat and he lipped us off saying that if we couldn’t read his writing, that was our problem. It was the next week that I began skipping. (How did you think I found out what everyone in my regular class was up to on Wednesday afternoons). Shortly after that I ended up dropping the program&8212;but I’ve kept the guilt.

And in so many ways, I can’t help but feel like my performance in AIM has been a reflection of my life in general. If only my circumstances had been different… if only I had a half decent teacher, or someone to inspire me… and besides whatever it is I should be doing, it’s significantly less entertaining than any number of my daily distractions.

At least I can take a break from my worries with some holiday cheer.

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