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Monday, July 9, 2012

Monday Morning Check In: The Latrine List

I had an inspiration the other day to create something called the "Latrine List."

Oh, I got your attention? Let me explain.

I attended girl scout camp when I was age 9 or 10, and we were assigned to do certain chores. Most of the chores were assigned with a random factor involved. As a teacher I have come to appreciate how effective the seductive element of randomness and chance can be. I regularly set up a situation involving a spinner or dice. The lesson or skill assignment does not change, but how the student approaches the practice situation does alter depending on the surprise result of the spinner or dice. In this manner, the girl scout camp counselors set up an element of chance in how chores were assigned. If there were eight students at the dinner table, there would be five chores that five students would complete at the end of each meal. That left the chance that three of the students would not have to perform any chore.

There was also the chore assignment of being the "hopper.' This job assignment was to scrape off all the leftovers from the plates after the meal ended and prepare the plates and utensils for washing. The regular chores were set up so that the students would have to pick a popsicle stick out of a coffee can that contained eight sticks, 1 for each camper at the table. Five of the sticks had chores written on them, while three sticks were empty of any chore assignment. Three students would luck out of doing meal time chores. The camper who elected to be the "hopper" was automatically exempt from other after meal chores. Another chore was to be the server. The server would get up and down throughout the meal and bring the food stuffs from the kitchen to the table. Like the hopper, the server was exempt from other after meal chores.

I always volunteered to be the hopper, because I enjoyed being finished with my chore at the same time that the meal ended. That freed me up to play the piano in the corner of the mess hall while the other students finished washing and drying dishes. I was amused to see how many other campers were more interested in taking a chance that they would pick the empty chore stick and not have to do any after meal chores. I would wonder to myself why these same students did not just volunteer to be the server or the hopper and be assured of finishing early. I still wonder about this.

There were other camp chores that involved washing floors and cleaning several public areas. Students could also volunteer to clean the latrines. Most students elected to pass up the latrine chore because of the odors. Not only was there the lovely aroma of the outhouse in general, but the camp provided PineSol® as the cleaner. The combination of odors on a hot day was truly memorable! I volunteered to do latrine cleaning duty because that would exempt me out of other chores I did not particularly enjoy, such as sweeping out certain rooms that were notorious for offering shelter for neighborly spiders and other crawly critters. Nope, the latrine was for me!

I thought of those things I have collected on my to-do list, and I realized that there are several things that I really enjoy doing. And, there are some things that just need to be done but that I would prefer I could hire out. I have decided to group these things I do not want to do onto a separate list that I will call "The Latrine List," and I will commit to completing at least one Latrine List item per week. I might take an entire week to complete one item, because I might choose to do the task in short intervals (10 minutes seems reasonable).

By naming this list with such a funny name, I hope to generate humor, which I hope in turn will spur me on with an extra jolt of current to tackle one of those tasks per week. Just as I chose the latrine and the hopper chores in order to free up my time for something I enjoyed, so I hope that creating and tackling the Latrine List will give me some additional piece of mind and free up my time (and my cluttered home and studio).

Who wants to join me on this?

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