TUESDAY WAS ACROBATICS DAY, starting with a dozen fourth graders. I asked the kids to take off their shoes and line up. Nothing happened. 24 eyes just stared at me. I repeated myself, a little more slowly and with better articulation, “Please take off your shoes so we can do acrobatics on the mats.”
Twelve kids stood completely still with blank looks on their faces. Tina took off her shoes and did a string of fast cartwheels across the mats; the kids applauded and didn’t move. A blond boy, clearly the son of a teacher, motioned for me to lean down so he could whisper in my ear, “Asking us to take off our shoes is like asking us to be naked. Can we leave our shoes on?” I stood up and said, “OK, please leave your shoes on and make two lines at this end of the mat.”
Twelve kids raced to get in line, laughing and pushing.