Monday, February 3, 1992

Day 1 Real Life

A remarkably uneventful and even somewhat wasted day of watching. Hour 1 and 2 were combined into 1 chaotic and disjointed SWAS batch of watching a teacher who spent some time in Poland attempt to make these kids realize that they live rather a blessed life by being here rather than there. We saw slides that must have meant almost nothing to them (many were obscure cur rather uninteresting architectural shots) and listened to dry (to them) chat about how hard 1ife is but how proud the Polish people are. The kids demonstrated their boredom by acting pretty badly several times they were told by Mrs. Korman, the SWAS coordinator or the teacher himself to calm down, show respect and behave better. They didn't. Third hour had 4 kids in it, and they saw the same presentation, though they were much more polite and interested. I tried to see why. I think it is partially the size of the first group (20) and the fact they are not usually together (Susan said I can bring them together if I want for special events, but after today I don't think I will).

Hour 3 was attentive (except for the kid who gets up at 3:00 to go to work and frequently sleeps straight through class) and responded reasonably well, but there will probably be no follow through.

Hour 5 was a 2 part class; part 1 more vocab work and part 2 a KWL lesson on AIDS. It was a classic example of a teacher not waiting for the students to respond before offering solutions. They watched a 5 year old ultra leftist video ("if you choose to use drugs don't share needles with anyone") that is out of date, incorrect and incredibly biased. But class ended before the video did, and I suppose they will never go back.

Hour 6 gave me first hand evidence why kids drop out. We had a substitute today who had a paper spread on his desk and seemed willing to let the kids go wild except that he was forced to pay some small attention by the visitors in the class (excluding me to whom he was happy, nay eager, to turn responsibility to). A counselor had invited a representative from the Army Reserve to speak about choosing careers, and if there ever was a person born not to be a teacher, Mr Hazard is the man. They were required to respond to some concepts they probably had never contemplated before and think about questions of "Where I would like to live" and equally remote problems. I am sure their worksheets are empty. The presentation consisted of him reading from a booklet the kids had, droning in a soporific monotone that had an opposite effect on the children they bounced and jittered in their seats and became almost uncontrollable, the old "respect" and "invited quests" phrases were tossed around with no result. The class was one of the most interminable and terrible I've ever endured. Besides the general chaos that reigned and the foolish smugness of these students, they live in the fantasy world (not unlike peers everywhere) of "I'm going to be a corporate lawyer" and "I'm gonna wear me a suit and tie every day" and "I ain't gonna make no $500 a week; I'm gonna make $5000 a week!". Although this man's heart was in the right place, he was overwhelmed and undergunned. It was a vivid and scary demonstration of good intentions and bad technique. He comes back for session two tomorrow I'll try to avoid it.

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