The Wizard of Osmosis


Successful teachers in today’s educational climate, particularly in middle school, often have to be performers. Teaching for better or worse in many cases has become a performing art. My specialty was hats. I often had symbolic attention-getting hats constructed or purchased  to start units.

One of my best hats was the one I used to introduce the Osmosis unit. It was a tall , white, conical hat like the one that Mickey Mouse wore while playing a wizard in the Disney film, “Fantasia.”  It was about 3 feet tall and had   stars and whizzing comets. It perched on the top of my head while I  played the Wizard of Ozmosis” for my class. Wearing the hat I explained  how using my magical powers of osmosis  I  could magically and without any real effort  move certain things from one place to another through apparently solid membranes while leaving behind everything else  The hat was perfect because it covered my, “pointy head,” ( 50’s talk for a nerd) perfectly in the same way a “dunce” cap had.

I thought it was a great play on words using the Wizard of Oz and Osmosis to make a memorable character and teach a lesson.  As I listed the parameters of osmosis on the slate of the 100 year old blackboard I used a dowel rod with red and yellow feathers glued on the end as a large wand to emphasize the points.

It was a fun and informative way to introduce the concept of osmosis.  That is, it was fun, until one of my African-American students after class pointed out to me that my Wizard of Ozmosis hat looked remarkably like ones worn by the wizards of the KKK and my wand looked like a torch.

I like to think that at times I do dumb things. I am not a very politically correct person, but I am not completely stupid nor uncaring about the effect of the symbols of racism.  The hat and wand were officially retired and although that was 20 years ago I haven’t yet decided if that was a good or a bad thing but I do know that I never found a replacement introduction that worked even half as well.

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About safrisri

I have been a teacher since 1971 and have taught at all educational levels from pre-school to college. My college degree is general science which I arrived at after 5 years and 5 different majors. A degree as it turns out, almost as valuable and in demand as one in Neo-Bulgarian Mythology. I have been around education for around 40 years and can remember when teaching was a pleasant, happy and creative job and our schools were the same. My writings will reflect on my past mistakes and successes and what my students have taught me about education.
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3 Responses to The Wizard of Osmosis

  1. and thanks to practically all kids having cell phones nowadays, be sure to expect they’re taking pics of you in class and uploading your crazy getups onto these fine interwebs to amuse they’re friends.. little bastards… haha

  2. thelastgasp1 says:

    Did you miss a great opportunity for a lesson in tolerance an symbolism? I believe one of our great failures here in the United States is in educating our youth on other cultures, religions and races, both domestic and international. An innocent action or verbal communication that is common in one circle might have horrible implications in another cirlcle. The thin skins of “political correctness” find it difficult to be TOLERANT of this difference and the “walls of defense” go up. It disturbs me that we can not embrace and learn from these differences
    rather take offense and than try to homogenize or erradicate them.

  3. HaLin says:

    Really appreciate these unique insights into the life of a teacher.

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