Wednesday April 8, 1992

One week until income tax day and that is at least one worry I do not have. There are many I do, including thinking about finding a job and managing to control, motivate and teach any students unlucky enough to become mine. It was another weird day of foolishness and irritation, and I wish I had a video camera (as they do on school buses these days) to record what I saw so that I could show it to the parents and citizens and let them see whether it is worthwhile to let these kids continue in school. Is free schooling something that is worth providing to those who are obtuse? Or is it all the teacher's fault? Well, if it is, it's more than just me.

Hours 1 & 2 were to go on the trip to the theater, but things were so disorganized that there was no clear idea about when they were leaving and they ended up departing during third hour. I took two kids who had not taken the science portion of the MMAT last week. We went to the library, where I read The Fall of the House of Usher and watched them do a fairly poor job on the test. We returned, and Mrs. Korman was reading The Most Dangerous Game, and though she read it with verve and enthusiasm, at least 6 kids were asleep and many more had their heads down and were staring into space. She could not keep them on it any more than I could, and she was reading a simplified version of a short story with an interesting plot rather than a sophisticated political satire requiring attention to detail and some knowledge of socialism and its on sequences. I felt vindicated, they may be willing to work but they are not willing to read or be read to.

My Hour 3 went on the trip, so I had a long free period in which I wrote a good poetry test and completed my Animal Farm worksheet.

Hour 5 straggled through the final chapter. Nigeria was loud and wandering; I got a conference card and filled it in. She put her head down and went to sleep. At least I did not have to listen to her talking and the irritation in her voice when I ask her to remain quiet. They read it, but they have no clear ideas about the irony of the ending or the incredibly accurate description of how propaganda colors our minds. They just cannot see outside themselves, and refuse to look at any picture bigger than themselves. I hate it. Can it be done with older kids, or kids I have for the whole year, or kids from smarter districts? I hope so. I try to remember myself as a ninth grader: surly and irritated with school. I have no memories of having done anything in English class. Did I? Does it matter? Does it matter for these silly and incredibly vain little teenagers7

Hour 6 was in a very rambunctious mood today, as we had to wrestle with an early dismissal for a track meet that decimated my class. I wanted to review the key terms I had described as necessary, and coincidentally appearing on the test I am giving tomorrow. I wonder how many of them will be there, as many have not been showing up with any regularity. They are sick quite often, which makes me wonder what they are going to do in the real world. (Of course, Mr. Blank was sick today as well, not much of an example, I'm afraid) Anyway, we played fantasy finance, the game I did with my 6th hour class where we attempt to create a budget and see how we are going to live within it. It is an enlightening experience, as they clearly have no idea how house price and monthly payment are related (I sure didn't, but then I had no desire to own a house or car). They created two budgets, an economy model, requiring an income of $26, 000 annually, and the deluxe at about $96,000 monthly. Were they surprised? I don't know. They rambled off to plans about how to do this, Sammy being the most loquacious and eager to describe his liquor store empire. Not that we need more places distributing alcohol to the drunks and losers of the world (and he gets rich while teachers struggle to educate con the evils of drink) but it was neat to see him with a plan, however shallow it may be. Part 2 of the class reviewed for the quiz and they suddenly became eager to learn. By the way, Tom left school without picking up his permission slip (he had to go to a track meet anyway, so probably wouldn't have been able to go), but I hope he derived some benefit from at least recognizing the value I placed on him. He was extremely helpful and operative and I thanked him. Someday, if he figures it all out, he is going to be quite a man. I hope I get to see it.

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