As many of the graduate students in my department are taking comprehensive exams this week, and no doubt cursing my existence as the chair of the international relations exam committee, I thought this quote from Ariel Rubinstein was fitting:
Remember that you are one of the most privileged people on earth. Society has given you a wonderful opportunity. You are supposed to do whatever you want, to think about new ideas, to express your views freely, to do things in the way that you choose and on top you will be rewarded nicely. These privileges should not be taken for granted. We are extremely lucky — we owe something in return.
(Via Michael Tofias.)
Parent trigger laws scare the shit out of me.
No. Really. You can’t teach the unwilling.
Here are options in my speech class:
- Pick your topic, whatever you want as long as it fits the genre of speech (persuasive, narrative, etc.)
- Research it however you want, either with print or web
- Show me some progress points as you work
- Make whatever kind of visual aid you want
- Choose the day you want to give it
- I’m here for guidance all along the way
- Perform, critique, laugh, applaud
- Repeat the progress X 5 for a semester with various topics, techniques, and strategies
- No textbooks. No tests.
And I still, STILL, won’t have kids do any work. I have had successes in the past where I spend weeks begging, pleading, nagging, and suddenly a light flips on and the kid does something and we build from there.
But then there are some who truly, really, won’t do anything. And there parents won’t push them, or guide or support me. I’ve made the phone calls. I’ve sent the letters. I’ve done the heart to hearts and one to ones. And out of the estimated 1,500 kids I’ve taught, there are those who refuse to work. It’s a shrug of the shoulders. ”Who do you want to BE?” I ask, “What do you want to DO with yourself?” Shrug.
kimmykaten accused me of not understanding my students. I understand them. I understand their 50% poverty rate. I understand their teen pregnancies. I understand their family illnesses that override their education. I also understand their overbearing parents that put sports over books. I understand their high stakes honors classes and their drive to get into the Good School. I understand their parents that LET them not work. I understand the siblings that blazed a path of inadequacy the younger ones feel obligated to follow.
So when kimmykaten says, ‘A child saying “I dunno, nothing” should never be the cue for someone to give up on them, but that is clearly what this instructor with all of this “experience” has done.” She really doesn’t get it.
I’ll teach the willing. I leave all windows and doors to learning open. No one sleeps. No one plays with his phone. You sit there, child, and you think about “nothing” while the rest of us explore, debate, and ask each other questions. And when the idea sparks and he’s ready, I am there for him.
Forcing the content on a child is just as bad as completely neglecting her. I do neither.