Education / Prelude Program

Pulling a Harpo

Bright and early this morning, I pulled up in front of my new school, where I will be working with 2 classes of third graders.  As is typical for me, I was apprehensive on this first day.  Because of the collaborative and creative nature of the Prelude Program, I never know what to expect when I show up.  I have a lesson plan and a roadmap for where we should go, to be sure, but no idea where the journey will take us.  But today I had extra nerves, because I have lost my go-to teaching tool.

I've lost my voice! 

I'm a singer and actress - living without my voice is like taking the ciggies away from a chainsmoker!  So, I struggled through my classes. We were brainstorming about Asia and Australia, deciding who and what we wanted in our play.  One class leaned toward animals, and the other more toward dragons and pirates.  It took me nearly the entire class period to get them excited and creative, which usually takes less time.  Then again, I can't blame them.  It's hard to get excited about working with this crazy lady who can barely speak, who keeps saying, "C'mon!  What do you want to do?" 

Days like this make me marvel at Harpo Marx, one of the infamous Marx Brothers.  His genius was not only in his brilliance as a harpist (thus the Harpo), but the sheer fact that in all of their films Harpo never says a word!!  To be able to hold the attention and tell such elaborate, fast-paced stories without words is remarkable and enviable to me.  Furthermore, he is so childlike in much of his expression.  He is the Id, wild and freespirited, driven by passion for joy, rage, or occasionally, pretty girls.

So what did I do to capture the imaginations of vaguely cynical third-graders who had never met "Ms. Amy" before?  I borrowed a page from Harpo and the preschoolers. 

I danced around like a monkey for them.  Funnily enough, it worked.

  T1.home.lowland.gorilla2.ap (2) P.S. – Doesn't he look like he's saying "Ta-dah!"?
Image from CNN . 

2 thoughts on “Pulling a Harpo

  1. i thought that you my say you pulled an “uncle monkey” – since i taught you how tap dance like a monkey !
    your brother and still “uncle Monkey” to my nieces,
    Jonathan King

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