The Cracker Barrel Peg Game

Since fall break I had been waiting to come home for Thanksgiving so I could be around my large family and eat enough food the week that I was home to make up for my pitiful refridgerator in Pittsburgh. But, this year most of my family visited their in-laws, and my mom worked all day, so my immediate family, plus 3,  ate dinner at Cracker Barrel.

My parents and us “kids” drove separately and my parents left the restaurant before us. My brother, cousin, god children, and I sat at the restaurant a while trying to beat the impossible peg board game. The object of the game is to only have one peg remaining. If you leave two then according to the game “you’re pretty smart.” If you leave three “you’re just plain dumb,” and if you leave “four or more’n” then you’re just an ignoramus (its spelled in a much more ridiculous and insulting way on the actual game). After failing for the umpteenth time, my brother shoved the game away and mumbled in his 18 year old nostalgia, “This is stupid. This game doesn’t matter.”

“Oh your just mad that the game keeps calling you an eeeegnoramous!” my cousin teases.

“No! This game is actually stupid, I’m ready to go.”

At first I thought my brother was just being “emo,” but during our ride home we had the most philosophical conversation ever. The conversation has made me completely rethink my proposed solution to the “literacy crisis” and my approach to the remixed essay.

My brother offered his solution to the school system through a 6 hour rant/conversation that was triggered by a board game but started by 12 “wasted years trapped in pointless walls.” He started off talking about how nothing in life mattered but food, water, homeostasis, and salvation. Then he began talk about how money and degrees are pointless, because knowledge can’t be measured. I offer to you his condensed solution, simple and sweet and incomplete.

Teachers should teach and learn. Students should learn and teach. This way Shakespeare isn’t so pointless, biology and math aren’t unnecessarily complicated, and students actually remember what they learned each year. But the only way a subjects utility is known, their has to be a relationship between teachers and students and administrators.

How can we fill this out more?

About RevMina

I'm a Tennessean by birth.
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3 Responses to The Cracker Barrel Peg Game

  1. nera says:

    Yet again we are having the “let’s solve this” conversation both here and in another post on the blog this week. I find it heartening that in this one small group, that includes a number of future educators, we continue to search for answers. We do not seem to be content to teach as we have been taught, but rather to find interesting and engaging methods to make school a bit more palatable for our students. Hopefully we will be successful in this. After we get jobs, of course.

    To your brother’s point, Revmina, about teachers needing to both teach and learn while encouraging students to do the same. Does your brother believe that teachers do not take the time to learn from their students? I am trying to think of even the most disengaged of my teachers and I wonder if their problem was an unwillingness to learn. They certainly lacked creativity, some seemed to lack passion for teaching, but I hesitate to say that they did not take the time to learn as well as teach. I would be interested in hearing your brother’s six hour rant to really get a sense of his perspective and the experiences that led to him feeling this way. To be so disillusioned by the educational system is so sad.

    I most definitely agree with his point from a positive perspective; that effective teachers not only teach their students, but learn from them as well. Education is the type of field that encourages constant lifelong learning, both in the subjects taught and the craft in teaching various subjects. And since teaching is a profession, continuing education is mandatory to maintain certification. But beyond the mandates, and the new ideas and discoveries that emerge within the various subjects, I believe that teachers must be naturally curious. If a teacher is content to let the knowledge remain stagnant, then how can they be effective?

    This brings to mind something another professor said in one of my classes this semester. “I may be teaching this class, but it does not make me better or smarter than you. I just learned all of this before you did.” She said that even though she has been teaching for over thirty years, having attended countless lectures and conferences on the subjects she teaches, her students still sometimes surprise her with their insights. And with that in mind, she went on to say that she has such a deep well of respect for her students. Because she never knows if a student in one of her classes will take the knowledge gained from one of her classes and expand upon it in ways she could never dream of.

    I thought that was such a profound insight, and one that I hope I will carry into my profession. Our literacy is such a great tool that will serve us well as we continue to explore what stimulates our curiosity. We can access so much information, but what about the insight we gain as we write? This blog has been such a wonderful tool to force us to expand upon our initial thoughts. And in these last few weeks, without class readings to guide the direction of our discussions, we have pursued many other avenues of thought. I will admit, at the beginning of this class I never imagined that I would end up being so grateful for the ability to read and write.

  2. Shiva27 says:

    I am not planning on becoming an educator. However, I am fascinated by your post. First it is hard to imagine that a simple board game with minimal pieces can cause an in depth discussion.

    What really caught my attention was your brother’s statement about what really mattered in life.

    I do believe that society holds knowledge and education to a high level (at least in our culture). However, I think your brother is touching on things that other cultures hold to a higher degree, and that is what I find very interesting.

    I also can’t help but agree with him that “nothing in life mattered but food, water, homeostasis, and salvation.” When everything is boiled down those are the things we need, so in my book he isn’t too far off.

    When he says that degrees and money are pointless I also want to agree with him here too. I will be extremely proud of my degree when I finally get it. However, I can’t help but realize that I have been on my own for years now without it and have just fine. Furthermore, I look at many of my friends that have graduated and many of them are no where close to their original goals.

    Last class, my partner and I talked about how the idea of going to college, getting a great job right away, finding a spouse, and buying a home no longer exists. I now we worry will I get a job when I graduate and will my current job pay for the massive amount of student loans I have accumulated.

    I guess what I am getting at with this rant is that, yes, I will be proud of my degree when I earn it and I would never tell anyone not to go to college, but maybe he is on to something and there are more important things in life then what society pushes on us. It was very refreshing looking at things from someone else’s point of view.

  3. RevMina says:

    *sighs* I’m going to miss this blog, hopefully we continue to post onto it. The class is “over” in a sense that we no longer are assigned to meet in room 219 of the lovely and mystical and stair-packed Cathedral of Learning M/W @ 4:30, but as we have been learning all through out the class, through readings, through discussions, through living life -learning and literacy don’t stop in the classroom. We can have our own Dead Poets Society (minus the focus on poetry unless you know you want to keep it), even for those of us who don’t claim to be writers :-P.
    But, as always, I digress.

    Reading ya’lls comments made me smile and (embarrassingly) made my eyes mist. This whole semester everything we have read and discussed has made me think about my little brother and my experiences abroad. There are so many ignored P.O.Vs and the world’s value diminishes with each ignored perspective and reality. I am confident for the future, for you teachers that will jump into one of the hardest jobs in the wooooorld, besides parenting and you know other things lol.
    Shiva, I know you say you don’t plan on being an educator but by your comment you already are one. By sharing your insights with the people around you, you’re educating them.

    Nera, :) I would love to talk to you more about that conversation, and he would too.

    I wish you all the best of luck!

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