Saturday, March 25, 2006
Educational Connections, Dirty Words, and Sherlock Holmes.
Sometimes, teachers assume that their students have a background in cultural literacy when in fact they do not.* And sometimes, helping a student make and understand a connection between one thing and another, makes it all worthwhile. Sometimes, teachers do not agree on what is worthwhile and what is not.
A few years ago, my sixth graders were getting ready to read a Sherlock Holmes short story: The Adventure of the Speckled Band, to be specific, which is my favorite Sherlock Holmes story.
About ten seconds into my enthusiastic introduction to the story, I realized that my students had never in all their lives even HEARD of Sherlock Holmes. They will never be able to make that claim again, however. I assure you.
We read the story and most of the students agreed that it was pretty cool. Snakes. Poisonous snakes. Gypsies camping in the yard. A cheetah and a baboon wandering free. A huge powerful man given to fits of violence. A bed, nailed to the floor. Bending the iron rod. Holmes, bending it back. We discussed the physics of the iron rod; all the students, young as they were, knew that bending the rod in the first place required strength, and that bending it BACK required even more. Holmes' powers of observation fascinated the kids.
When we had finished, I recommended other Holmes stories, and the bell rang, and they left my room. I sat there hoping the unit had gone as well for THEM as it did for me.
I knew it had been a good unit when I overheard a group of boys talking about it in the hallway.
"Now I know what it really means when somebody says 'No shit, Sherlock!'"
No, I did not stop short, drag the student to the office and demand that he be punished for saying 'shit.' The P.E. teacher who also overheard the boys wanted to, but I asserted myself, which didn't often happen because I am pretty much of a wuss in spite of my big talkin' ways, and anyway, I do not believe in jumping on kids when their conversation was not directed towards me. Eavesdroppers often hear negative things, and if they would mind their own business, it wouldn't be such a big deal.
I figured that we were eavesdropping on those boys, and that whatever they said to each other in their supposed privacy (unless it was about bombs or threats or clues about who TP'd the restroom or whispers of abuse, etc.) was their business, not ours. Kids deserve some respect.
The other teacher walked off in a huff, carefully, so the corncob wouldn't fall out. I smiled at the boys and said, "That's right, guys."
Knowledge is power. Education is all about connections. And that, as far as I was concerned, was a legitimate connection.
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Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 8:58 PM | |