Tuesday, February 25, 1992

Well, a surprising day in a number of ways. We had both more and fewer students than expected. Hour 1 worked orally on the responses they made to our Utopian vision. They were not very motivated or interested, although as I pushed them they were willing to make some commitments that they then had to retract. It was interesting to me, because their solution to all problems was just print more money; future politicians there). So we went off to a discussion of hyper-inflation, and they began to understand what the problem was. I think they actually saw a little light, especially Carla, who usually flips through magazines, and Samantha, who is a little on the tart side and usually is busy combing her hair or examining the ring through her nose.

I was eager for Hour 2, as they would probably give me a lot more return and obnoxiousness, but unfortunately, Dr. Williams came in to give a career counseling session. It consisted of examining a checklist that appears as if it were designed for adults contemplating mid-life career changes. It asked about their hobbies, volunteer work, if they like to "help people" or "work with numbers" or equally fatuous things like that. These are kids who hang out at the mall, shoplift, and watch TV, with a special emphasis on MTV and naked women. They probably couldn't even define hobby. It was a total waste of time, and they behaved as if they thought so too. He tried to say "People, I need your cooperation" but as all Dale Carnegie and Robert Ringer readers know, they don't give a damn what he needs. He then opened with the hollow threats "We'll have to see about some days for you (meaning ISS)" or "I'd hate to have to call your mother about this". They were unmoved by his pleas. I was too. It is hard to imagine something that could have less relevance to them at this point. These are kids who don't have a strong conception of next week--4 years from now is a duration equivalent to four millennia.

Hour 3, however, really got into the question, and actually tried to give answers to the questions. What is important and how to we keep it so. They thought some things through a little way (if not a long way) and provided a comparatively comprehensive view of what is necessary to create a just state. I gave a little overview of Plato and his conception that the state comes first and the individual second, and they were aghast at this until I pointed out what the consequences are (high employment, high standard of living, etc., at least in "enlightened" versions of this government). We are ready to read some more; in fact I think I'll let them get ahead, as we decided the other day to go to mythology after completing this book. I only have so much time.

Hour 5 could not work in groups. They needed guidance all the way through, so we scrapped the groups half way and went to a total class response that was much more effective, though this is clearly a class that would rather have me do their thinking for them. I, as of yet, have not quite given in to their desires. So we discussed as best we could (missing several of the noisy and diffident members) and we saw some of the problems inherent in the system. Soon, we will be into Chapters 3 and 4 and see how things develop.

Hour 6 was blessed by me and we watched a movie about the Scottsboro boys. It was an excellent, though slow movie, and they needed a little plot explication to get all the points across, but they were fairly attentive (with the exception of the girls peripherally involved in Ed's murder). They talked throughout the class and were somewhat animated I was fearful that things would escalate. Thankfully, they did not. If we get started promptly tomorrow we will be able to see it all.

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