Friday, March 03, 2006

High Shool Students

So, lately, I've been lamenting the fact that the students who now attend the olde Alma Mater seem to have grown soft and spoilt and have lost the edge that used to make grown ups and rivals tremble at the mere mention of the words..."Red Terror."

No prank wars, no underground and off-limits magazines, no crying teachers, no honest debate, no scavenger hunts, no breakfasts at Savadore's during first and second periods, no skipping class to pick up donuts or subs, no tearing apart buildings, no good bands playing out every weekend, no crappy bands with good props playing out every weekend, no shameless taunting of annoying administrators, no really real hangovers, no hiding the fact that you're breaking the rules. It was like, class on 96 left and they just up and forgot how to be kids.

Now, they have a giant egg war, put nasty pictures of their girlfriends up on the web, and try to engage in as much straight up property destruction they can manage.

Apparently, this student body lack of imagination and backbone is a widespread phenomenon. Some kid in Colorodo has a jackass for a teacher and the whiny little snot decided to tape the teacher's 'liberal' rant and broadcast it as proof of indoctrination. This led to the teacher's suspension, and around 150 students walked out of class to protest that suspension. Conservative pundits like Malkin have picked up on it, and even DADvocate can't believe it:
Quite amazing. I never experienced any thing like it during all my school years. The teacher, Jay Bennish, was recorded by one of his students. Mr. Bennish goes on a rant of epic proportions. I can't understand how a man who hates this country so much can stand to hold a job where the source of his salary is government funds.

I reckon this one is going to be used in the 'liberals ruining academia' narrative.

Let me say a few things, and they have nothing to do with what this particular teacher said to this particular student. I don't care about the subject matter. I've had debates with the most conservative teachers one can get (who would call me a "Rabble Rouser" because of my politics) and the most liberal professor I've ever had raised the most ruckus when she decrided sweet Southern Barbecue in favor of the spicy Texas variety (she almost caused a riot). But apparently, I haven't been 'oppressed' or 'indoctrinated' in the classroom because, unlike this Colorado whiny snot, I wasn't gonna take it! That's right, snotty, I fought for my right to party, and you shame the names of students from Ferris Bueller to Bart Simpson by rolling over to your jackass teacher in class, taping it and playing tattletale. Number one, grow some cajones. Number two, stop snitchin.

What I take significant issue with here is this Colorado student's reaction to a jackass teacher. We've all had jackass teachers, you whiny little snot, and they went on rants and raves about a great many things. Back in my day, if these jackasses did this sort of thing, we'd shut 'em down looong before their jackassery ever got anywhere near 'epic proportions.' And I looked at that teacher's lines of reasoning. Any member of the CO96 Model UN Team, or any of our friends for that matter, heckfire - 80% of kids in our school could have (and would have), blown the jackass's argument out of the water by the third paragraph. Even if we'd have agreed with him, his fanny woulda got derailed in the 7th when we got bored of hearing his voice.

Even if he'd have had the correct combination of talent and skill to keep us on topic after the 7th paragraph, he'd be dealing with a gallery of shouted questions along with assorted boos and hisses from both sides of the asile.

Then both sides of the aisle would have proceeded to ignore his jackass and begin debating each other, loudly, wildly and with nigh any abandon. Other teachers would have to come into the room because the rukus would be indicative of some sort of fight going on.

In the confusion, six students would sneak out of the classroom and go to lunch or the beach or both. Any remaining students who did not want to be a part of the conversation would use the cover of the ones who did to completely ignore what was going on.

In 15 minutes, there should be no discernable conversation on an audiotape because there would be 18 people talking at the same time, or hooting 'hells yeah' or booing and hissing some point being made.

Whatever 'vocabulary' this jackass teacher was talking about would be summarily dismissed, the test would be postponed another day, the papers would be due a week later and the bell would ring, ending conversation abruptly leaving the jackass teacher wondering how he let it all get away from him.

Next week, I'll tell you what we would have done to the jackass teacher, had he been the whiny little snot and told on us for turning his classroom into pandemonium.


petallic said...

"No crying teachers."

I can't believe you share DNA with your brother.

patsbrother said...

First...and Al Bundy threw four touchdowns in a single game.

Second: while he did go out there a couple times, the teacher reiterated several times he wanted the students to think about these issues and to come up with their own answers. The teacher also responded encouragingly to the student who taped the discussion and to that student's comments. Nothing about the transcript you directed me to indicated this man was closeminded or in any way oppressive in the classroom. Obviously, it got at least one student's attention (or 151, depending on how you look at it).

Do we want teachers to have opinions and to allow for open discussion on actual events, or do we want them to go the safe, middle-of-the-road approach of boring students to death and expecting them to simply regurgitate sets of facts? In no way would I advocate a Nazi in the classroom, but once again, from the written transcript there was no indication this man was not accepting of differing viewpoints.

Personally, I would rather have a teacher who has a philosophical bent about the subject he teaches. I know I can disagree; but I learn more from actually interacting with another perspective.

My problem with this scenario is that the hoopla seems more to do with the teacher's opinions than with the way he presented them and held classroom discussion (which is a distinction you would never make from reading an article; so just this once, yay blogs).

Patrick Armstrong said...

The Daily puts everyone on blast for jackassery.

dadvocate said...

As I said, I never had a teacher come close to this kind of rant. The teacher's comparison between tobacco and cocaine is ridiculous. I don't believe anyone in the U.S seriously tries to smuggle tobacco into countries that don't allow it, if there is such a place.

Occasionally, when I was in high school a teacher would make quips of one sort or another. If too many students were offended, or the wrong ones, they (we) would perform some sort of minor vandalism towards the teacher, toilet paper their yard, let the air out of their tires, etc., nothing that caused permanent damage. Nowadays we'd probably have gone to jail for such activities so kids have to record and pursue the wimpy, legal channels.

BTW - do you know what a "Titty Twister" is? I have a post about a guy who performed one on another fellow that must be a super wimp.

Patrick Armstrong said...

Yeah, I've been a 'victim' of that partikkular crime many times. I think that kid's a whiny snot too.

Face it DADv, your little girl could kick these kids up and down the playground, IMHO. (You're right to be proud by the way - tell her this former book nerd says congratulations...)

If everyone who had subjected me to the twister had to spend four days in jail, you could just consider me and half my friends felons.

One thing about getting back at those annoying administrators and teachers that get out of line: yeah, toilet paper and air outta the tires would get you arrested. (And I kinda think that's a shame, but things like that can escalate a little...) That just means kids have to get creative. I have a wealth of ideas in that realm to share.

And like I said, iffin this partikkular jackass teacher had started this sort of rant back in my day, he never woulda got to the tobbacco/cocaine comparison at all. (And he woulda got toasted on that iffin he'd brought it up first - we'll start the drug war thread later on...)

I still think, if you tape a teacher for that length of time on any subject, with access to today's recording technology, you could do so many interesting and more productive things than playin' tattletale.

I personally would have edited him into his own sub-standard B-side rap song and found a way to play it over the school PA system. Much more embarassing, much less trouble, no lawsuits or laws broken, and no national press.

patsbrother said...

For those of you who have not known my brother for terribly long, for you I will confirm your suspicions and remark that my brother was not Ferris Bueller. He wasn't even Parker Lewis.

dadvocate said...

Good comment, Pat. When I look at this stuff, I'm glad I'm the older generation because, like you and your friends, I'd have spent a lot of time behind bars if I did the stuff now that I did 35 years ago.

petallic said...

Dadv, it's because of kids like you and Pat that we have these stringent laws. Harrassment of a teacher, or worse, threatening behavior toward a teacher is automatic reason for suspension. Week before last, I found a note in which a child wrote, "I'm starting to think Miss (Petallic) is a hotty buttery syrupy waffle I'd like to stick my knife into."

Other teachers thought I should turn it in as a threat. Instead I just read it out loud in front of class with him present and posted it on my blog. Much more effective, I felt.

The only pranks my kids play these days are fun ones. One kid taped all of my office supplies (stapler, pens, hole puncher, etc.) to the walls of my classroom. Took me days to notice the pencil taped to the top of my TV.

It was funny, and we've laughed over it for two years. Of course, that was in retaliation to me giving him the nickname Post-It. He didn't write his homework down, and when I questioned him, he pointed to himself and said, "I'm a human post-it." I quipped back, "What? So you're floppy and sticky?" He has been Post-it ever since.

But seriously, Pat, your disdain of teachers and administrators is childish and sophomoric. I would figure that by your age you would realize that MOST teachers are doing their best to be respectful and make a difference. Poking fun at crap teachers is like shooting puppies in a barrel. To be honest, kids don't find your brand of behavior amusing anymore. Kids understand now, more than ever, that silly behavior escalates all too quickly to frightening behavior. They are ALL TOO AWARE that violence isn't to be played with. Okay, you say, but rolling a yard isn't violent behavior. Yes, it is. It is vandalism of personal property. If a student takes the time to find out where I live, come there in the dark of night, and vandalize my property, I will be afraid. Students do not have the right to strike fear into the hearts of teachers. Vaselining my friends' car door handles, however, was all in fun and frightened no one.

Personally, I don't think there's a more noble profession than the one I've chosen. When I was choosing a profession, I debated between the classroom and the nunnery and decided teaching would help more people. Plus, I'm not Catholic.

Silly me. I had no way to know I would one day be told the glorious truth from a guy who has never faced a room of surly teenagers and through sheer talent made them love you, the subject you teach, and life. I hope I'm not overstating my influence in the classroom, but check out my website if you wish.

I do think Bennish went slightly overboard, but I think your defense of asinine behavior towards teachers is even moreso.

GP said...

I have alot of respect for teachers but c'mon. Rolling yards is a time honored tradition and it's not a violent act. I've had my yard rolled and thought it was pretty funny.

Would you rather have your yard TP'd once a year of have a bunch of kids going over your head to the administration every time they had a problem with something? I don't remember ever rolling a house of a teacher I liked or respected.

petallic said...

I tell my kids at the beginning of the semester that if they ever feel I have gone overboard, acted inappropriately, or spoken inappropriately, they should speak to me about it after class. Just this week, I cursed at 2 children. I said to them, "Just because you're smart doesn't mean you can be an ass." As soon as I could after school, I called both parents to apologize for my behavior but to tell them their children were going to have to redo the project they had half-assed. They were totally cool about it. The dad even said, "Don't apologize. Sometimes kids need to be talked to like that."

I realize TPing can be done in fun, but slagging off teachers just because Ferris Bueller made it look cool is incredibly lame. If a teacher behaves inappropriately and doesn't make amends, that teacher SHOULD be reported to the administration. They should not be harrassed at their homes. Ever.

mikey said...

First: Patsbrother, yes, I can imagine that your brother was not Ferris Bueller in High School. He certainly wasn’t in College. Come to think of it, he wasn’t even Cameron Fry in College. But he’s graduated to Cameron status now…after all, JERSEY IS FERRIS.

Second: Jackasses abound with this particular situation. The teacher was a jackass for getting so far off subject he couldn’t find it with GPS. The whiney student is a jackass for going and telling “mommy” when the big, bad teacher was mean. The school administrators were jackasses for suspending the teacher for voicing an opinion. The 150 students were jackasses for not coming to the teacher’s defense until after the suspension. The other teachers at that school were jackasses for not walking out with the students in support of their colleague.

Third: This kind of thing is a problem we see a lot of. Teacher/Coach X does something student Y doesn’t like. Student Y has a big ol’ hissyfit and tells his mommy/school administrators. Mommy/school administrators have a hissyfit of their own because they’re afraid of just about everything. Teacher/Coach X is forced to cave and spoiled student Y gets his/her way.

Come on, guys, let’s all just grow a pair huh?

Regardless of how idiotic this particular teacher was, he was still the teacher. By undermining his authority in the classroom and giving into this whiney little snot of a student, the administrators succeeded in teaching an entire school that all they have to do is throw a fit to get their way.

The best lesson I learned in High School was that sometimes the person in authority is a moron, and you just have to deal with that. Because I learned that particular lesson (one I might point out that the whiney little snot has not learned) I have successfully dealt with a number of idiotic bosses and supervisors. What’s this kid going to do when his future boss turns out to be a moronic jackass? He’s gonna go tell his mommy.

It’s not because of “kids like [Dadv] and Pat that we have these stringent laws.” It’s because we have hypochondriac, overprotective parents who fly off the handle at every given opportunity, a public school system terrified by its own authority and absolutely unwilling to use it, and a government that refuses to back up its schools.

If parents aren’t willing to let their kids fend for themselves at least a little from time to time, then they should get used to the idea that they’re going to have to support these little cry-babies their entire lives.

If teachers can’t handle a little harassment coming from the snot nosed 16 year-old in the back row, they should find a different profession.

If reporters can’t find something more newsworthy to fill their pages with than one whiney moron’s fit over what another whiney little moron had to say, I’m canceling my subscription.

Besides, how can you take a hormone driven high school’s comparison of his teacher to a “hotty buttery syrupy waffle I'd like to stick my knife into" as anything but a compliment?

petallic said...

Wow, Mikey, I agreed witih everything you said, even when you disagreed with me.

dadvocate said...

Gosh, Petallic, sorry I ruined everything for the younger generations. Funny thing is that I was one of the good kids. Didn't smoke or drink, played sports, made good grades, said "Yes, sir/ma'am" and "No sir/ma'am" and all that.

From listening to stories that my Dad and his brothers used to tell, the generations before mine was just as bad. One of my uncles started a riot, literally, at a baseball game (kids high school age game) when he went into the stands after a fan who kept cussing at my grandfather. The police told them to leave town and don't come back.

My Dad and his two brothers turned out OK. The oldest, who started the riot, became a successful business owner, the next a newspaper writer and my father a university professor. I wonder how they would have turned out if they had had to put up with all the crap kids go through now.

BTW - I never heard a teacher cuss in the classroom until I was in college. The only time I can recall a teacher saying anything was when a teacher (female) told me and another guy to quit making asses of ourselves. We laughed our, well, asses off.

Of course, when I was in school you could still whack a student across the rear with the "board of education." The board had a lot of power and influence.

ruby booth said...

I can’t speak about Dadv, cause I don't know him, but if we need laws to protect us from kids like Pat, then we've lost the whole shooting match already. Pat was a passionate, energetic top-quality student. (Although, you’ll never get him to admit it.)

He also is and always was a storyteller of the first tier. It is essential to understand that, before accusing him of sanctioning harassment or intimidation of teacher, students, or little innocent bunny rabbits. He is a true myth craftsman of the oldest and best southern tradition. Like Twain’s frog races or pilgrim critiques, or Hunter Thompson turning cops into lizards, when Pat gets revved up about something he doesn’t just say: that teacher was incorrect; or we had a lively debate; or we skipped class a few times. Because nobody cares that you had a spirited discussion. It doesn’t make a good story, and it doesn’t adequately convey the intensity with which we tackled whatever issues came our way – whether it was what to have for breakfast, how to form a band, the crisis of famine, poverty, and illness in Africa or the moral relativism of the United States in the period following World War 2. These were all things which interested us, as they should. Patrick simply has a flair for making them interesting to practically everyone.
People want high jinks. They want flash. It gets reactions, and the heart of the matter is expressed to those who bother to think deeply, while those who don’t are, at least, entertained.

Occasionally, teachers did cry. It upset me at the time, because by and large they meant well. But so did Patrick and the rest of us. No one wanted to hurt their feelings. Sometimes we may have gotten a little too exuberant. However, if spirited discussion is going to make someone cry, then maybe that person should not encourage them in his or her classroom. Because there was no threat involved. Not even the threat that we could run tattle to the principal if we disagreed. We thought at the time that was a cowardly, chicken-shit way out, because we believed (and still believe) that when you care passionately about something – be it America or barbeque – you should be willing to stand up for your belief. Which is why those same teachers speak so fondly of our class and are always happy when we can stop by or go out for a drink. Because we all came out of the experience better for it.

Pat’s way of expressing this sentiment may sound a bit more like Ferris Bueller than Ben Franklin, but that’s a matter of style not substance. The heart of the matter is this: when either students or teachers become too cowed, by authority or threat of violence, to express themselves, then the most vital element of education is lost. The animated free exchange of ideas is essential to any learning experience, without it all that remains is indoctrination.

nikka said...

Most of what a good student learns in high school is not from any specific lesson plan or any ideological monologues their teachers may or may not spout. It’s from taking an interest. I learned so much more about world geography, politics, and history, than I would have otherwise, because these were the subjects that a few excellent teachers talked and argued about with folks like Ruby and Pat. We had enough good teachers to encourage our interest in the world around us, and enough bad ones that we ran a little wild.

The ruckus we raised was just good old fashioned, healthy hell-raising that’s being criminalized now because of a paranoid, repressive system that treats rebellious or free-thinking behavior as though it were physical violence. Obviously no teacher should have to be afraid of their students, but challenging their elders and getting more control over their lives is what healthy teenagers are supposed to be doing. Our class was well up to that job, and had a good old time doing it.

None of us ever threatened a teacher, we just wouldn’t listen to bullshit, and couldn’t stand being bored, patronized, or lied to. We had a lot of smart, outspoken, rebellious folks in our year, and some of our teachers loved us for it. Others just didn’t know what to do with us, and when they lost control and a student started teaching the class, well, some tears may have been shed. It was not due to fear for their safety, though.

The crowd that Pat hung out with in high school were, along with being rabble rousers, honors students. We took advanced placement classes, and most of us went on to college. If one of our high school teachers had gone on a rant like this fellow in the article did, we would have debated him into the ground. It also would have inspired us to do more research so that next time he tried it, we could blow him out of the water with additional vigor. See, I think healthy interest and debate about the subject is what this teacher was trying to get out of his students. That’s probably why he encouraged the only one who bothered to argue with him.

But this kid in the article didn’t do any additional research, or continue to debate. He snitched and got his teacher suspended, which was both cowardly and unjust. Whether we agree with this teacher or not, he seems to have actually gotten his students’ attention, instead of watching them, day after day, listlessly pretend to write notes while wondering what’s for lunch. At least he made an effort. Unfortunately for that effort he may get fired.

I would take a passionate teacher that I disagreed with over a boring one any day. Honestly, the ones I disagreed with helped me form my own opinions even more than the ones I agreed with.

petallic said...

"Gosh, Petallic, sorry I ruined everything for the younger generations."

You're forgiven. :)

Patrick Armstrong said...

"Just some good ole boys,
Never meanin' no harm,
Beats all you ever saw
Been in trouble with the law
Since the day they was born."

-Dukes of Hazzard theme.

Touched a nerve with this one, hunh? I stand by my statement.

1. I do not advocate violence or vandlaism against teachers, administrators or students especially at their homes. If you will notice, my main point was to decry a whiny snotty little student for not standing up to a teacher who I believe was acting like a jackass. Responding to jackassery is most effective when you are not doing anything wrong, and derailing a rant is not the same as derailing a class.

2. I do maintain, however, that some teachers and administrators will act like jackasses and put themselves in a position to be the butt of jokes and pranks. We don't do this because Ferris Bueller did it. As a matter of fact, I don't recall that Ferris pulled any pranks on teachers at all, he just used technology to skip school.

3. I am polite and respectful to almost everyone I come in contact with until they do something that causes them to loose that standing.

4. I never compared myself to Ferris Bueller or Bart Simpson, but the Cameron refrence stings. It really, really does.

Things this whiny snot of a student could have and should have done, besides turn the tape over to the media:

A) Shut the teacher down through thoughful and continued discussion. Anyone is allowed three minutes of ranting before interruption stops being impolite and starts being an anti-jackass tool (5 minutes are allowed if the rant is entertaining). Obvious use of an actual stopwatch is encouraged. Sitting on top of your desk is required, and the desk must always be in the back of the classroom. All of this can be done in a personable and respectful way that does not include cursing or calling of names.

B) Tape the teacher and say nothing. Use soundbytes from the tape to create an awful rap music B-side, complete with inappropriate record scratching, a whole lot of 'word up' refrences, and a 'peace in da Middle East' finale. Play this over the PA system at the school ad nauseum, or create and distribute demos to the student body.

C) Ask the teacher for his documentation and refrences for every statement. When he fails to produce said facts say "then I don't believe you are correct." (This is the Sprout approach...) If the teacher continues, start making up Swiftian analogies of your own (anywhere you can insert the term 'illuminati' or 'ufo' is more than acceptable).

D) Ask the teacher to go to the bathroom. Don't come back to class. Join your friends at lunch or in other classes. When those teachers ask what you're doing there say "oh, we weren't learning anything with so-and-so, so I thought I'd come in here and see how things were hangin'"

I don't encourage harrassment of teachers, at all, and don't think I did. I do, however, encourage kids to call 'shenaniganz' and be wary of 'jackasses' wherever they go.

I have a list of things that can be done to out of line teachers and administrators that are not violent, not illegal and not vandalism - but that will visit upon them the knowledge that students will not tolerate jackassery. The last thing you want is to get throwed in the pokey, have to pay for any damages, or have to clean anything up.

Patrick Armstrong said...

And just for the record, I admit to nothing concerning my storytelling ability.

Regarding my 'four touchdowns,' however, I was one of the masterminds behind the only mock terrorist assault on a Homecoming float (my own) featuring a running street battle between mock Secret Service agents and mock turbaned terrorists with Super Soakers at a Glynn Academy Homecoming parade in the middle of downtown Brunswick, Georgia in 1996. We came in third place (car division), if I remember correctly, for the only Model UN/Debate Club Homecoming float ever.

I would probably be arrested or expelled for that behavior today, as well as all the kids who participated.

I will also admit that at least 4 of my senior year grades (Art, Creative Writing, Drama, and Art History) were directly the result from the largest work of graffiti ever created on the Glynn Academy campus. A work that I subcontracted out to underclassmen, by the way.

I would probably be arrested or expelled for that behavior today, as well as all the kids who participated.

Ferris Bueller I wasn't, I'll admit to that, but legendary nonetheless.

mikey said...

When Patrick was in Egypt's land--let my Patrick go.

Patrick Armstrong said...

I never said I needed to be free.

Jersey was Woody, Coach or Sam (whoever was the bartender on Cheers.)

patsbrother said...

Having called Pat out on so many occasions, I feel compelled to coroborate the truth when he tells it. Color me tickled to find my brother practiced racial profiling to celebrate the coming together of nations as a body politic.

And I'll never know what Art History or Creative Writing had to do with the backdrop (read: back wall) to West Side Story, but I will assume such a lack of adherence to a clear rubric would be impermissible under No Child Left Behind.

And though the wall may have been the largest physical graffiti in Glynn Academy history, I always considered GA's most remarkable work of art to be Ms. Duke, the only permanent installation/ performance piece the world has ever known. (I gave blood this morning. Someday. Someday I'll have a 20 gallon pin just like she does.)

Dante said...

We all know that Curtis was Woody. He looks and acts too much like him for it to be any other way. I'd put Jersey as Sam.

And I think it's very important to point out that if you think Ferris Beuller spent his days pranking teachers and TPing stuff, you really need to watch that movie again (but skip the awful TV series even if it did have Jennifer Anniston and that guy from 18 Again in it). Ferris' only angle is skipping school. If he has to pull a few stunts and make a few things up to accompish that, he'll do it. Parker Lewis is a different story.

I don't think Pat is Cameron. I see him more as Jerry from Parker Lewis (with the jacket). And of cours Mikey woul be Mikey from the same show. There really is no Parker Lewis or Ferris Beuller. We should all learn to accept that.

Unfortunately, I was Chalie Sheen from Ferris Buller back in high school. My only real contributions to heck-raising in high school are the following:

1. Coming up with a Senior Skip day early (to the almighty Malibu Grand Prix) and then comercializing it and making sequels. We ran Senior Skip Days into the ground worse than Mission to Moscow could ever run the Police Academy franchise into the gound. Most of the original cast was gone and the day denegrated into the same old drinking and partying that we saw in the first five installments.

2. Every test set of chemistry experiments we ever did has to include the techer's glasses. Those glasses actually made it through the entire year.

3. I established a stupid side of our AP classes and came up with a set of requirements to joining. They included making a zero on a quiz you actually took, knowing a full minute of dialogue from any movie John Landis or Harold Ramis had a part in making, and throwing something daily at a memeber of the Smart Side of the classroom.

4. We had a pretty conry decorate you hall for school spirit event during homeoming. As freshmen, in retaliation for losing the yelling the loudest competition at the pep rally to the seniors (though we were obviously much louder and most faculty informed us that they always just give the win to the seniors at homecoming), we trashed the senior hallway after they finished decorating for the evening.

Pretty sad list though I did have a small hand in putting a goat in a teacher's classroom but only in logistics.

As far as the original subject matter, I think it was a pretty slick move for Snotty to give the teacher enough rope to do the job himself. However, I also think the spectre of recording teachers comments will show that liberal bias on teachers' parts is not as widespread a phenomnon as some people make it out to be. I've already heard a few radio talk show hosts asking for such recordings. I don't think enough material will be uncovered to make this a big issue.

patsbrother said...

Dante: While there are some analogies that need qualification to be understood, likening ranting Pat to the spectre of Ferris Bueller is not one of them. I do not need to see the movie again. Neither am I crazy: Ruby and Mikey both seem to have understood perfectly.

But while we're on the subject of dogmatic literatlism, I find it pertinent to point out if you were in AP classes in high school you were not the Charlie Sheen character from the movie.

nikka said...

You do realize, though, Kevin, that you were the first to actually make any comparison between Pat and Ferris, right?

mikey said...

Oh, I don't know, Kevin.
Just because Dante was in AP classes doesn't mean he wasn't also Charlie Sheen. There's nothing saying that character wasn't in AP classes when he wasn't in jail.

mikey said...

As far as myself, I may have been Mikey from Parker Lewis in High School, but in college I was most definately Eric Stratton, rush chairman....damn glad to meet ya'

petallic said...

I'm only in touch with two people from high school. You guys may be Ferris or Parker or Cameron, but I'm starting to feel like Monica Gellar when she went on a date with the cool guy from high school who still worked at the theater and lived with his parents.

And damn it, I never actively watched Friends, but TBS is the only decent channel on basic cable. Damn you, TBS, damn you and your conveniently-timed mind-candy.

Back to the topic at hand, the only teacher I ever actively questioned was my 7th grade Geography teacher. He was a member of the Flat Earth Society, which as you can imagine, presented a tough dilemma. I still liked him though, as kooky as he was. And as has been stated previously in this thread, his ridiculous rants only served to challenge us further. He was a sweet man (though he physically resembled Hitler), and I learned a tremendous amount from him about opening my mind and being tolerant of other people's beliefs, crazy as they may be. I would never have recorded him and turned him in. He was one of my favorite teachers, despite his inanities.

My students are fully aware that I have different beliefs from them on most issues, politics in particular, but only because THEY ASK. I never bring up politics or religion on my own unless it's part of the curriculum. When we read Lord of the Flies, we discuss evolution, but I try to do so in such a way that I am presenting it as an academic theory, not a religious debate. "If we have evolved from some earlier beings, what is going on in the novel?" That sort of thing. At one point, I do force them to make an argument for evolution based on evidence from the novel, but I present it as a task in debating, pushing the idea that an intelligent individual can debate either side of a topic, not just their own. No one has ever objected.

patsbrother said...

Yes, Anne, I am aware I was the first. Perhaps I should have said "Ruby and Mikey both seem to understand perfectly [what I meant]."

And yes, Wukela, I am cognizant that was a possibilty. But I decided it would be funnier if I didn't qualify that statement, even though "dogmatic literalism" would have required me to do so. I am also aware you were likely already aware of this. Touche', in advance.

Tangent: "beating a dead horse"

This statement implies futility, as opposed to beating a live horse, which must be worthwhile in some way. It also implies you were beating the horse before it died and simply continued on after bludgeoning the poor creature to death. This doesn't necessarily beg the question, but I'll ask it anyway: is the futility of the situation simply that the horse won't respond to the beating or that you've obviously already accomplished your mission?

mikey said...

Kevin, sure beating a dead horse could imply that you were the one who beat it to death...but doesn't necessarily. I've always kind of taken the expression that you started beating the horse after it was dead, sort of like "kicking someone while they're down." It implies cowardice (sp?) as well as futlity.

Of course that assumes that beating a dead horse is an act of futility. I mean, how else are we supposed to get to the juicy insides?

To petallic's point: I'm not sure that your inclination to avoid instigating a discussion of religion and/or politics in class is something to be proud of. Especially in your subject, which I'm assuming is literature though I may be wrong. Isn't an understanding of the King James Bible fundamental to understanding almost everything on your students' reading list?

Try not to take offense when I say this, but I'm a firm believer that our society's fanatical adherence to the rule of political correctness is part of the reason we have all these problems. How can we deal with the very real problems facing our society if we're all so afraid to say what we're really thinking in public? Isn't that what we're teaching our kids when we avoid certain topics?

I understand the need to respect others' points of view. That's why I respect them enough to tell them what I'm really thinking, regardless of how they feel about it.

I understand what you're saying and I think I understand why you're saying it, but I have another option for you. When my father enter's a discussion, he immediately takes the most radical position he can think of. I've tried to emulate this tact and I'll tell you why: when everyone in the room thinks you're the craziest one their, then the ideas they have, in comparison, are remarkably sane and reasonable and, as a result, they're much more willing to mention them.

Sure when you leave the room 90% of the people they're think you're completely nuts, but sometimes when your goal is to promote honest thought and communication, that's just the price you have to pay.

Patrick Armstrong said...

Mikey's been payin' that price for a while...


petallic said...

I totally agree with you, Mikey, and I can assure you my kids think I'm nuts. I'm square as square can be by most radical's standards, but I'm the most really real radical many of them will likely ever meet. But, I do not teach gifted children or AP; I teach average Joes, by choice. They think I'm a raving lunatic. But because I teach Average Joes, their concept of radical is much tamer than other people's. In order to even approach sensitive topics, I disguise it as something else and sneak attack the topic from behind. We certainly have lively conversations, but I do expect decency from all involved. If they can't respect each other, the deal is off. In the end, they think we've just met the standard (Georgia Performance Standards), but we've discussed something pretty controversial in doing so. Kevin has often quoted one of my more famous quips in the classroom, "I'm not saying Christianity is a myth, but it could be, and it is." It's stuff like that that gets the conversation going, but as is necessary, I can explain to the parents when the need arises that we were just doing blah blah blah and using the topic to achieve the standard.

Your father and I have a lot in common though. Whenever the kids bring up lesbianism, the first thing out of my mouth is, "Dude, I wish I were a lesbian. I've tried and tried, but I just can't do it." After that, anything they say is tame. I try to make sure I'm the most radical one in the class, so even if some kid says, "I love the devil," I go one step further and say, "Keep your hands off my man." Humor is key. As long as we're having fun and learning simultaneously, the kids are open for anything.

To sum up, I agree with you completely about the respect issue. Per the ending scene of Dogville, one of my favorite films, respect means being brutally honest and having high expectations, then applying them not just to oneself but to others as well. Treating someone with kid gloves or allowing them behavior you wouldn't allow yourself means you don't respect them, and I try to very hard to respect my students.

Dante said...

"I find it pertinent to point out if you were in AP classes in high school you were not the Charlie Sheen character from the movie."

You'd be surprised how far you have to fall to be removed from AP and accelerated classes when you were labeled "gifted" since about 4th grade. I was fortunate enough to drop the Chuck Sheen scene about two weeks before the lot of them were arrested or I very much would've been in jail with the rest of them. I was pulled over and searched by police pretty much weekly for the next year after I narrowly escaped being arrested. That helped me stay clean and led to some pretty funny searches where I'd mess with the cops. I'd do things like look nervously in areas of my car so they would scamper over to investigate and ask insistently for my jacket even though it was 70 degrees outside. I'm sure my "friends" who were arrested all turned on me to avoid stong sentences. I would've done the same to them.

Patrick Armstrong said...

Petallic said on another post: "I think that's why I was so shocked by Pat's antics towards teachers; I could never bully anyone, especially someone in a position of authority."

I've been racking my brain for days trying to figure out how what I wrote could be so wildly misconstrued. Too many of my good friends are teachers. Too many of my family are teachers. Too many people I respect are teachers.

I've also been wondering where in the world it was that I didn't speak the truth, and led my own brother to call me a liar. (I appreciate the love from Ruby and Nikka, but I'm not taking that much poetic liscence here.)

I see nothing wrong with harmless antics, I see nothing wrong with questioning authority and I don't believe anything I described could be considered bullying of someone in authority.

So I figured out where Petallic lost track of what I was saying. She heard "No crying teachers" and that was it for all I had to say.

Sweetie, today there are plenty of crying teachers, but today they're not crying because the Rabble Rousers took them to task on something, and held spirited debates about their beliefs that they lost.

Today, those teachers are crying because the Rabble Rousers left, and there ain't been a group as fun as us since.

I have a revision for you, that may shed some additional light on this subject matter.

"No prank wars (that teachers helped us win), no underground and off-limits magazines (that teachers helped us bankroll), no crying teachers, no honest debate (with teachers and other students), no scavenger hunts (that teachers helped us win), no breakfasts at Savadore's during first and second periods (that teachers wanted to attend), no skipping class to pick up donuts or subs (that were brought back for our favorite teachers), no tearing apart buildings (at the request and with the blessing of teachers), no good bands playing out every weekend (that teachers were in and went with us to watch), no crappy bands with good props playing out every weekend (ditto above), no shameless taunting of annoying administrators (encouraged by teachers), no really real hangovers (that the teachers made fun of us for), no hiding the fact that you're breaking the rules (and the teachers are breakin' em right along with ya). It was like, class on 96 left and they just up and forgot how to be kids.

Now, they have a giant egg war, put nasty pictures of their girlfriends up on the web, and try to engage in as much straight up property destruction they can manage. (None of that would be considered "fun" by the CO96, unless it was the CO97 in the crosshairs of the eggs...or Sprout)"

Hope that clears a few things up. I remember distinctly that when one particularly annoying teacher was finally defeated and cowed, we received the loudest cheers from the other faculty.

Every one of the teachers you work with, you don't have really annoying teachers on staff, who don't have the students' best interests in mind? You don't have crappy administrators who let 'their kids' get away with anything while suspending 'my people' for Swiss Army knives and cigarrettes?

Sometimes, teachers (just like students) can be jackasses and bullies just as well. It took me a long time to learn it, but I was not going to take crap from a jackass or a bully, no matter what their profession.

petallic said...

Ahh, revision needed and noted. Much better.

I was beginning to think all the decency genes went to your brother. You were correct to realize that my teacher-eyes read the phrase "No crying teachers" and tainted everything else you had to say with complete bias.

I have no shame in admitting that eight years in this profession have seen more than a few tears from my own eyes, and there was never anything funny about it. Some have been shed over students committing suicide, some have been shed over a student's only parent getting decapitated in a horrible traffic accident, some have been shed over the sheer sorrow of youth, some for raped girls, some for a young boy with special needs who was sodomized in the boys' restroom during class, some for a boy in 8th grade who died of a heart attack in the hall next to mine, some for a pregnant girl who lost her baby in a car accident prom night, and some just from the frustration of the job. You might as well have made a joke about a cop getting shot or a firefighter suffering third degree burns.

But sometimes the offense is in the ears of the offended, not in the words of the speaker, and this is probably one of those times. I can live with that, sweetie.