Saturday, June 09, 2007

This One's for You, Mrs. Plass!

In my 6th-grade class at JF Oyster Elementary School (now Oyster Bilingual Elementary) in Washington, we did a geography unit on Russia. One of the lessons was on Siberia. I volunteered that there were tigers there, for which the teacher roundly ridiculed me in front of the class.

"How could there be tigers in Sibera?" she scoffed. "It's too cold there; they'd freeze to death. Tigers only live in India."

Once home, I told my mother about the incident. To support my claim, I pulled out one of the volumes of our treasured Worlds of Nature animal encyclopedia, which had a detailed, illustrated article about Siberian tigers--the largest cat in the world, up to 10 feet long and 800 lbs. I wanted to take the book to school to show the teacher she was wrong. But Mom wouldn't let me; she told me not to make trouble. (She toughened up: 10 years later she caused a minor furor by refusing to sign a paper saying she believed in God, which Baby Brother needed in order to join the Cub Scouts. He was allowed to join anyway.)

On the odd times that Siberian tigers make the news, a remnant of my 11-year-old self is aggrieved--and vindicated--afresh. This morning I was highly gratified to see the following item in the NY Times "World Briefing":
Russia: National Park for the Siberian Tiger
The government has created a 200,000-acre natural park in the Far East to protect the country’s endangered Siberian tigers, the Natural Resources Ministry confirmed. The Russian Far East is home to about 500 Siberian tigers.
So there.


David said...

Oh, those Mrs. Plasses in our childhoods! I think we never forget them.

Katie Alender said...

I have several memories like that! And a friend who is waiting for my book to come out so she can send it to a friend who once told her that "clubbing baby seals" is too obscure a concept for popular culture.

Sorry you aren't feeling well, Bella!

Anonymous said...

Hey I used to go to Oyster, now I'm in 8th grade. I remember all my friends and teachers there and I wanted to say that I love them all. GO TIGERS!