Oct 7, 2011

One Good Thing About Today

In 1st period, I rushed through our lesson on the Renaissance (European) -- though interesting -- so I could get to Occupy Wall Street. I knew this class would want to talk current stuff. And I dig making the study of history circular, so to speak. That was history then, we are making history now.

"What's going on in the news?" I asked. Someone mentioned the trial of MJ's doctor. Okay ... yes.

"What else?" Steve Jobs died. Ummm hmmmm.

"Anything else? Anybody know what's been happening in New York?"

Uhhhh ...

"On Wall Street?"

A voice over my right shoulder: "Oh, oh, yes .... they're protesting!"

"Right, they are! So, let's talk about that."

I showed them clips from Thursday's edition of Amy Goodman's "Democracy Now."

A college student interviewed said he was $50,000 in debt after only two years in school. This rendered a mixture of disgust, anger, disbelief, and despair.

We talked about the growing wealth gap, why Wall Street is being targeted, how their own future will be affected. One side of the room got revved. "I'm going to New York this weekend!" a female student declared.

Others began to talk: "Let's go! Ms. Matthews-Davis, we should go!"

A group of about eight began to consider what they could really do, how they could do it, what kind of difference they could make. They started talking about Twitter. Someone threw out the name of some other social network, "even better than Twitter, Ms. Matthews-Davis." They all instantly agreed. Definitely, that one, too! I pretended I knew what they were talking about. Never even heard of it. (Geeeeez, just when you think you're up to date.)

Then the "I'm going to New York" girl announced, "I just sent a message on Twitter!"

Me: "What?!! You ... did? On your phone? (Duh.) Well ... okay. Alright." They were so pumped up. I couldn't rain on that fire.

On the other side of the room, about six show-no-emotion boys were watching the video with intense expressions that said, Is this for real?

The hip-hop duo Rebel Diaz sang about "the 99, the 99, the 99 percent."

The bell rang for 2nd period, and my students left the room talking about the unfairness of Wall Street and plotting how they would shake things up. I told them to stay tuned to the news this weekend.

Just before the bell, I had a moment. It was at once a flashback and a dizzy awareness that I was living one of my fantasies. It was outside of my head and actually happening. For a few seconds, it froze me. I had imagined a teaching moment just like this!

If I can inspire my students to question, to take a chance and peek over the wall, to find out where they fit in with all of it, to consider the humanity of others, I have made a minute contribution to their process of self-discovery and growth. Yes...yes!

(Heaven to Avis: "Told you so.")

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