Friday, April 04, 2008


Haven't been making entries as of late. I just started teaching again this week. Dude, I am exhausted! I am so happy to get out of the office early so I can do something that actually has MEANING.
I was a little frazzled yesterday though. I teach two sections of American Literature to juniors. Big kids. THEY FUCKING SPAZ over the stupidest things. I'm trying to get them to do a fishbowl discussion activity that my freshmen at the catholic school did with NO problem. We had a demo yesterday, and god help me if they continue to go like that one did. Ay ay ay. Come on, people, FRESHMEN did this activity very well. I THINK juniors should be able to do it.
My 9th period did a better demo than the 8th which kind of shocked me, since 9th is when I have more "jokers". The 8th period, unfortunately, has one female student in particular who just speaks all the damn time and monopolizes conversation. I can tell she drives one male student across the room absolutely nuts by this. *shakes head* I had to remind her she was supposed to let the inner group, the fishes, talk yesterday. This student simultaneously acts like she knows everything, while still having to ask a million questions about the process. It's like if you'd let me finish EXPLAINING and perhaps watch the demo, maybe your questions could be answered. Oy.
Anyway, we're doing Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon and there is certainly plenty of fodder for discussion in it! Oh my god, the book is chock full of imagery and seemingly "insignificant" details which come back later to bite you in the ass. I have to confess, I started out HATING the novel, but now I absolutely love it. As I reread each chapter in preparation for the day's activity, I'm just amazed by details that pop out.
For instance, while the book is about a fictional family, Morrison also sticks in a lot of historical detail: 30s Harlem Renaissance, Great Depression, WWII (Tuskegee airmen), etc. One incident that is mentioned in Chapter 3 (and really serves as a huge impetus for one character) is the Emmett Till murder. Hot DAMN. I had to go look up pictures of Emmett Till; bringing those to class. That was a huge HUGE catalyst for the civil rights movement. Those pictures made people wake up.
I'm thinking I might really need to be either a history teacher now, or focus on African American experiences/literature because it is suddenly 10 kinds of fascinating for me. Especially in the whitest-of-the-white school I'm at right now. These kids seriously have NO IDEA how much this stuff still resonates in society. The other day I was trying to explain how even within the black community, the shade of your skin is still a topic of discussion and intense questioning. They were all like "wuuuuuuh?" HELLO? Presidential election? Barack Obama? People saying he's "not black enough" or "too black"? WHICH IS IT?
And then is the anniversary of MLK Jr's assassination. Wow. I started reading some of the anniversary coverage of it. I had kind of forgotten about how Jesse Jackson Jr was there when it happened.

I got to thinking about Till, MLK Jr..and how we're now living in a time where we actually have a viable candidate of color. One who may actually, I hope, win it. Could you imagine? The 60s weren't a long time ago. It only seems like it, but when you think of all the pain and the trouble people have suffered through to get to today? (Are still suffering?) Baby steps in history. Seriously, I would absolutely cry during the inauguration ceremony. I would so go if Barack wins it. I don't care how nasty cold and crowded it would be, that would just be something I'd have to go experience.