Tuesday, November 16, 2010

School Days

I caught a glimpse of my future today when I went to speak to a fourth grade class about being a lawyer. As part of a program my firm participates in, we went to do an exercise designed to show the students how lawyers have to think to win cases. I was really distracted for the first 5 minutes because I was cruising around the room looking at all the boys' names written on their name tags. I didn't find a winning name, but I confirmed that Jacob and Max are really popular, because there were two of each in a class of about 25 students. I was enchanted by little Filippo, but not sure that Filippo Ellis is going to pass any of Jeff's tests for a baby name.

These students were definitely still kids. It was refreshing to hear some of their honest comments and they seemed pretty respective of each other, of us and of their teacher. Our exercise was called, "No Pets Allowed," and we asked them if that was a fair rule for a landlord to have, generally. Then, we switched up the facts and asked what happens if a blind tenant wants a seeing eye dog? What if a lonely bachelor wants a parrot for company? What if a kid has an ant farm for a science project? And, my personal favorite, what if someone wants some tropical fish to make her living room more interesting?

The kids had hilarious reasons for why pets should or should not be allowed. I appreciated the very rule-oriented little Victoria who said that a "rule was a rule," so there should be no pets, not for the blind lady, the lonely man or the decorating-challenged woman. I asked a little boy what was so wrong with having a few fish, especially since they don't make a mess and they don't hurt anyone. He disagreed. He told me that flying pirranha fish could leap out of the tank and kill tenants. I humored him and told him that was a very good reason to bar fish from the fictional housing complex.

My colleague who conducted the class with me was less humoring of some of the students' answers. We asked if a police officer could bring his drug-sniffing German shephard home for a night because of a kennel closing. This wide-eyed little boy said that would be ok since a police dog would be well-trained and well-behaved. My very liberal colleague was aghast that little Kamilliam thought that police dogs wouldn't hurt anyone. My V.L.C. referred young Kamillian to the 1960's southern race riots when police dogs savagely attached "black" people. I won't lie. I was uncomfortable that my V.L.C. explained this to the only back student in the class. Still recovering from that little "educational" exchange.

Anyway, I am happy I think older kids are cute and endearing. The highlight of the whole exercise came at the end, when we were wrapping up and saying our goodbye's to Miss Hartman's fourth grade class. One little girl raised her hand and said, "Now, what was the point of you coming here today?"

You gotta love a direct question.

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