Mr. Wolfe, my high school math teacher, sometimes started class off with the dreaded “take out a sheet of paper.” This meant that we were about to have a “pop quiz,” the bane of every unprepared student. A collective gasp accompanied the putting away of math books and the retrieval of a single blank sheet of paper. I remembered this first when I thought about posting about a piece of paper. Apparently that experience overrode my previous positive associations.
But long before high school I, along with every other kid in my class, learned how to make a simple paper airplane. Although it was certainly possible to make complex folds, I stuck to the model pictured above. It worked fine and sailed across the classroom when necessary. Of course we all knew how to look completely innocent when a missile flew around the room. Making an ordinary plane ensured anonymity.
I have no idea how kids learn ways to torment teachers. I am not referring to actual bad behavior such as talking back or using physical force. In the 1950’s we were really still in awe of teachers. But we did sometimes toss a paper airplane or spit a wad of paper at another student. Of course teachers had appropriate punishments for such stunts. I remember one boy having to take a sheet of paper and make spit balls one after another and send them into a waste basket. He probably has as bad a sense about “take out a sheet of paper” as I do.