Diary

The last day of the semester was yesterday; what we did in class.

We’re at the end of our semester and two things have occurred; one, the students, bless their hearts, have managed to give me a raging head-cold (my nose runneth over), and two, the Learning Objectives have all been mostly attained, leaving me a wee bit of ‘empty’ classroom time. So, as in years past, I’ve used my instructor discretion and brought in my pocket hard drive containing a 2006 ABC John Stossel program “Stupid in America”, decrying the sorry state of high school education, proposing solutions thereto.

This semester my little class is 100% single moms, no guys whatsoever; a topic for another day. However, they’re all more than a little interested in the education their kids are getting, or are going to get shortly. Additionally, many of my students aren’t that long out of high school themselves (although some are grandparents, very young grandparents…)

It’s interesting to see people’s reactions to a TV show presented in a classroom environment, as opposed to the average living room with all its distractions. The points Stossel makes, which ordinarily might get lost in the background noise, really hit home when viewed in school.

They were truly outraged. They totally identified with the parents on the program. Stopping the video for discussion and sharing showed my folks were largely in the same boat, and understood the implications Stossel’s interviewees brought forth regarding money, teachers and bloated administrative staff. And also high school grads who literally couldn’t read their own diplomas.

But the fun part was afterward; what can we do about this? I asked if any of them knew who is currently on their school board(s); they had no idea. Did they realize the school boards basically hold the district’s checkbook in hand? Were they aware that these board members are elected, and that elections are (always) coming up? Again, virgin territory. But not for long; the computers were immediately busy doing research, pointing & clicking away, discovering school boards, members, meetings and elections. (This was the Applied Computer Science part of the class; that’s how we’re listed in the college catalog; need to stay a little bit on topic)

Isn’t learning fun? This was so much better than a dull review before next week’s final exam. I think at best, I may have created a few school board candidates yesterday. At the very least, people’s phones are going to begin ringing. One can only hope…

As an aside, they also really enjoyed the Christmas flash mob; I left the classroom door open and cranked the volume so as to share The Messiah with all the other students out there in our atrium. Merry Christmas!