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37 – The Secret Life of Students

There’s so much I don’t know about my students.  Their lives are so much more complicated than mine could have ever been when I was their age.  It scares me…makes me wonder where we, as adults and a community, have failed them.  Were “we” the ones who failed them?

This year alone I have had five of my Seniors tell me that I am the same age (or OLDER) than their mother…WTF?  Really?  That’s just fucking strange (to me) because I am 34!  34…as in three decades plus four years…not, in my book, old enough to have a SENIOR in high school.  I have four seniors who are now pregnant with her own child (sigh).  I shake my head…It makes me sad.

Whatever happened to being a kid?

Today, I facilitated a discussion activity called a “Fishbowl” in class.  The premise behind the fishbowl was to get the students’ creative juices flowing for our upcoming Canterbury Tales project.  For their project, students are to select a modern-day issue and satirize through the persona of a pilgrim from The Canterbury Tales.  Well, needless to say, when I assigned the project last week Thursday, they acted as if I had asked them to shit down each other’s throats instead of “create an authentic project of your choosing.”

Original thought is not something they offer up willingly…LOL!

So, in the name of provocation, I assigned a journal prompt stating the following:

“Write three modern-day issues/topics and create an open-ended question for each issue/topic.”

I collected their journal prompts and selected some of the more juicy questions in which ask.  There were eight students in the “inner-circle.”  Those kids were the ones who answered the questions.  The “outer-circle” kids remained SILENT and took notes (and this REALLY worked until my last class during 6th period).  Once someone from the “inner-circle” spoke, then a student sitting in the “outer-circle” had the opportunity to switch places and participate in the discussion.

I discovered these key things via the fishbowl discussions in various classes:

  • A majority of my students have sex (more than I do)
  • A major majority of my students have UNPROTECTED sex (I do not do that)
  • I am as old as, or younger, than my students’ parents (I’m 34 and they are 17 or 18)
  • They are homeless
  • They have unconventional families (live with grandparents, siblings, foster parents, etc.)
  • They are parents themselves
  • They don’t believe in conventional relationships (or that they will actually work)
  • Don’t have a reliable adult base of support at home

So now…I have a newfound respect for the efforts my mother and extended family members did to ensure my welfare.

 
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Posted by on December 12, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

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