January 14, 1992

I had some difficulty finding the school. I thought it sat up on a hill and was remote and aloof. It turns out East High School is right on Van Brunt and has 2 parking lots that both say Construction Crew only. I decided arbitrarily to park in one lot and found my way in, wandered around for a while and found Room 416.

Mrs.Korman was dressed in a wildly colorful pants suit that looked like a beach towel. I was really glad to see she wasn't one of those cold, prissy English teacher types. I had assumed from our conversation the previous evening that she was plump, blond, and a smoker I was correct on all 3 guesses. She is also very disorganized and very apologetic about her chaos. I wish people who aren't very good at something could recognize and accept rather than continually attempting to explain away their behavior.

Hour 1 began at 7:30 (Hours 1 & 2 are 9th grade SWAS, 3, 5 and 7 are a remedial class for kids who failed English and need to pass to complete their requirements for graduation). I was introduced almost immediately (this is the only class where I was introduced; in 1 class they asked and she explained) and class began. They were finishing The Call of the Wild, but their definition of finishing is pretty scary. They were almost half done "reading" and the class consisted of her reading several pieces aloud and them "reading" a piece to themselves (edited and abbreviated and simplified). She summarized the plot and tried to get them to deal with the title and what the relationship between dog and man is, and they were hopeless. They had no clue about what the wild may be calling about or to whom the only fact they recognize is that the "theme" of the book is the strong survive and the weak die. She needed to finish the book that day because they were going to see a movie version of it (with Charlton Heston as John Thornton!) so it was important to be done. She needed them to watch the movie so she could complete her semester grading in class hours.

So far, I think I could do what she did without any preparation (what I think she did). And I want to accomplish more than that. The other classes were much the same, though 1 class (3?) had two boys who seemed able to think and Hour 7 had only 3 kids in it, 1 dull, 1 bored and 1 lethargic and comatose. What a dreary day. As I said to Susan at the end of the day "They really can take the heart out of good literature". Is it possible to make them even a little interested in what's going on?

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