Mission Roll Call


Kevin Drum at the Washington Monthly blog posts about homework. That's well and good. What I'm interested in is a tangent in the post:

As it happens, my parents didn't help me much with my homework when I was a kid, possibly on the "builds character" theory and possibly because it didn't occur to me to ask. In fact, I remember — as do all California children — having to build a model of a mission in fourth grade and receiving no help at all — none! — solely because I had left the job until the day before it was due. The result was predictable: a hodgepodge of margarine boxes wrapped in brown paper and set in a pattern vaguely resembling the grounds of Mission Santa Barbara. My brother, on the other hand, got help aplenty when he entered fourth grade, and as a result he turned in a magnificent styrofoam model of Mission Somethingorother, complete with miniature orange trees and a little blue reflecting pool. Not that I'm bitter or anything.

I made a mission in 4th Grade! And since Kevin's in his 40s, that means building missions has been part of the universal 4th Grade California curriculum for at least 30 years. Wow. With all the changes that have gone on in education in the last few decades, all the twiddles and tweaks and new textbooks and new teaching methodologies, it's astounding that, of all things, the 4th Grade Build-a-Mission project is sacrosanct. I like to imagine there's a hard-core vanguard of Missionistas in the California Department of Education who would die before they give up the Mission requirement. They'd rather have no education at all than an education that abandon something as bedrock, as wholesome, as quintessentially educational as the Build-a-Mission project to the godless new-age hippy-dippy types who think constructing a model of a mission out of toothpicks and styrofoam is a waste of time. New Math? Sure, but I'll be deep in the cold, cold ground before you take away the Mission Project!

I made Mission San Buena Vista, on account of I associated Buena Vista with Disney cartoons. And when I say "I made" I pretty much mean "My mom made." I imagine it would have been quite the horror to see what resulted if you gave me a bunch of styrofoam and glue.

So what mission did all you California Primary School graduates out there build?


I'm not a CA Primary School graduate, but when I was in elementary school, I had to build a replica of a Native American community. I did whichever nation had the big community long houses. And of course Tipi's.

Man. I can't believe how universal stupid model building in elementary school is. The longevity of the Mission project really baffles me, though. With the Native American community model building I can imagine there's a hard-core multiculturalist set on the education board that would want to keep it. But who wants to keep Mission building? Missions were the agents of Spanish religious and economic imperialism, which regardless of you thoughts on the subject seems a fairly gauche thing to glorify in modern primary education, particularly in a somewhat loopy state like California. What gives?

I can't even remember which mission I made. I remember making it -- out of sugar cubes, I think -- but I recall it as Generic Mission rather than a particular one. What I do clearly recall is how pissed off my teacher was about my essay on "if I lived in a mission", which was about how much I wouldn't want to have people shoving religion down my throat all the time. Goddamnit, it was a valid point.

Did you also have to make a relief map of a state the next year? Mine was Hawaii. It took a bit of work to get the islands positioned right, but at least I saved on building materials.

I don't recall that project, but if I had done it I would have tried for Wyoming. Just bring in a big square of cardboard.

Precisely! I don't think we got to pick our states, though. Some are born to Hawaii, some choose Hawaii, and I had Hawaii thrust upon me.

Zach, your website and I have been having some difficulties this week. I keep getting error messages when I post, the page won't load, it loads ASCII gibberish, et cetera. Do you know what's going on with that?

Dianna: For starters, I deleted your double comment. As for the site, I have no idea. Typepad's been screwy all week. I think they're moving to new servers. The stats have been periodically out, a couple of days ago you could view the page but couldn't post or comment, etc. At the same time, comments have never worked right for me; I think maybe one time in ten when I hit Post it actually completes loading and takes me to the page with my new comment. The other times it sits there and loads and makes it seem as though nothing has happened. If you hit post again, you end up double-posting. If you hit Stop and Reload, the page reloads and voila! there's your comment.

In short: Typepad may provide fine blogging software, but their hosting is perhaps not the greatest.

As commonplace as they are for you in California, they aren't to be found much anywhere else (at least in that Spanish clay-tile mission style). Its a very "California" thing like In-n-out and being scared of rain.

I think its a vast conspiracy to find someone who really falls in love with the missions and then recruit that person to joing California's tourism board.

I definately had a mission report in fourth grade, but the actual building of the mission was an extra credit thing, I think. Anyhow, I did mission San Luis Obispo. Coincidence? I think not!

Teddy: Excuse me, we are not scared of the rain, we simply know that the proper place for water is in lakes or oceans, NOT falling from the sky XP

Muahaha! I never had to make a mission! My 4th grade teacher just had us make little powerpoints on a mission of choice. I did San Juan Capistrano.

February 2012
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
      1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29      

Contact Zach


Webcomics of Which I am a Fan

Sites I Read Daily: Politics

Sites I Read Daily: Video Gaming

Sites I Read Daily: General Miscellany

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Zach published on October 26, 2005 10:56 PM.

Stupid polls was the previous entry in this blog.

R.K. Milholland needs to update his character page is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Powered by Movable Type 5.04