Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Our Youth... continued

This assignment caused all of these things to happen.

I have written fact and figures in a notebook, but I plan to ignore them for this post, and tell you instead what I have learned over the past days based upon my memory of that time. I have learned that skim milk, water and chocolate syrup all mixed together looks like dirty water when one of my students pulled this confection from his book bag, in a clear plastic water bottle, told us he filled it in a mud puddle this morning, and proceeded to drink. His presentation was on the lack of drinkable water in Africa and I'm pretty sure he could teach better than me on most days. Often I feel that I've lost my dramatic flair and have kept only the madness.

I have learned that a cosmetics company called Lush makes their products with natural materials by hand and does not test on animals. I have learned what a shampoo bar is and where to get a pretty good one should I so desire.

I have learned that women are often conscripted into rebel armies in Africa to cook. Often these women are the victims of sexual imposition and later outcast by their communities.

I have learned that the Black Hawk Down incident was caused in 1993 by American forces being dispatched by George Bush to sort out why UN foodstuffs were not reaching the Somalian citizens. Many US soldiers and many Somalian militiamen lost their lives. The leader of the Somalian troops was apprehending the foodstuffs before the people could get it. This information juxtaposed with Matt Damon's face on a flier sponsoring clean water initiatives in Africa made me wonder if American celebrities are doing more good in the world than the US Armed Forces... not out of any greater sense of duty (I'm sure the sense of duty is greater for men and women in the Armed Forces), but by the gentleness and generosity of their approach. I really think it's something else that America's wealthiest and most famous citizens have taken upon their backs the burden of confronting the world's problems. There is something wonderful in this. It makes me wish I was a celebrity so I could do something good for the world with my fame and well scrubbed face and my money. I'm planning on looking for a magnet shaped as a ribbon for my car that proclaims Support Philanthropic Celebrities.

I have really enjoyed teaching lately. Some days I think I need it more than they do.


Meagan said...

Your last statement made me happy... I hope when I have kids their teachers feel that way.

As for dramatic teaching methods... I think it depends on your style. I had teachers who managed to be "dramatic" nearly every day, but I think for most people those gestures would be forced. I had teachers that were just as good but used no stunts at all, they were just excited about their subject and they passed that on to us. It sounds like your student has a knack, but what is brilliant for one person could be sort of hokey, or downright embarrassing for someone else.

John said...

How right you are, Meagan. It has taken me a long time to come to terms with the fact that I can't use histrionics effectively in the classroom. This is, or course, just a function (I thought for a long time, a disfunction) of my personality.

emily said...

I like what you said about celebrities doing humanitarian deeds. I always thought it was a bit gimmicky and that if they were doing some things, they could do more. I hadn't thought of the gentleness and the generosity of their approach, or that it's something they willingly set out to do.

Jennifer Sullivan said...

Lush is the lovliest smelling store of all time. On my European travels, I can smell the store at least 3 blocks a way. They are not just in Europe anymore. I think there is one at Beachwood Mall. Order your wife some things from Lush.

I really think that dramatic flair is something that only works once in a while. Last year I had a day where we decided to take Emerson's words to heart and return to our childlike selves. We pretended there was lava and sharks on the floor and we stood on our desks all day long.

The kids are still talking about it. It was a good day. If something like that happened every day it wouldn't be as meaningful.

I know what you mean, that part about you needing the teaching more. Some days I feel so damn blessed.