Tuesday, November 26, 2013

In Which Bella Shows a Video.....and Feels Thankful.


OK, so.  I admit it. When things are bad.....really bad.....I sometimes just revert to showing my class movies. 

It's a move I reserve for the end of the semester, and I only use it in dire straits.

Now don't get me wrong.  I am a consummate consumer of mass culture, and I try to think of ways said consummation could be useful in the classroom.  I do. .....honest.

Oh....well.  ....Shit.  This class.  This Composition from hell.  THIS CLASS.  We needed a movie experience.  Together.


So.  Judge me.  Do it.  But what I have done with my Comp-from-hell class is show them the 1989 Morgan Freeman film Lean On Me.  I had them read the article about the real life Joe Clark from February 1st, 1988 in Time magazine.  We spoke about education, and the mess that it has become.   We discussed reasons why that may be so.  We looked, together, at testing statistics (the high school students in this film need to perform better on the Basic Skills Test).   We discussed, as a group, the fact that students today, from high schools much like the ones from which my own lamb chops have emerged, do not fare so well on similar tests of basic skills.  We considered reasons why.

Then we watched the film together. 

It was quite an experience.  We stopped many times, when someone from within our group made an erudite comment (ok, ok, I was the one who stopped it, and many times it was me who had an erudite comment to make....but not always.. in fact, maybe not even the majority of the time).

We had a good time, watching this movie together.  We had something real to discuss, and we discussed it.  I feel as though I am a new teacher, making a breakthrough.  I feel kind of like a newbie.  I don't want to think about the writing assignment that will come after this week just yet.  No.  Not just yet.

For now, I am simply wondering why I did not show them this movie earlier.

And also, I am feeling sort of hopeful, and pleased.  And thankful.

And so, I thought I'd share this with you, my cohorts in the misery.

27 comments:

  1. The right movie, at the right time, in the right dose can be really powerful. I still show about 40 minutes of Bowling for Columbine. Most of my lamb chops are too young to have seen it when it first came out, but they ask some really good questions and participate in a lively group discussion (one of them went home and watched the rest of it!).

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  2. I show the Princess Bride; the scene with Miracle Max, involving "mostly dead also meaning slightly alive". It is relevant to statistics and fuzzy clustering.

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    1. Ooh! I can use that in my research class. I always spend at least 15 minutes on good statistics vs. bad statistics and how to make sure they're using the good ones.

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  3. Sometimes I stop lecturing to show them a video of me, lecturing. I'll pause the video to elaborate on a particularly well-spoken comment that the speaker made.

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    1. HAHAHAHAHA.

      This was great. I literally burst out laughing!

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    2. Do they love your movie persona more than you?

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  4. Sometimes I wish I could have spend a class having everyone put their heads down on their desks, the way we did when we were acting up in 9th grade.

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    1. Heads down, thumbs up, time to play Seven Up!

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  5. ".....and I only use it in dire straights."

    Straits.

    Dire straits.

    [This is like how Internet people spell "grisly" as "grizzly."]

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    1. If I get attacked by a grizzly bear, would it be a grisly attack or a grizzly attack? Sorry, Strelnikov, I could not help myself.

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    2. I guess I am a true internet person. Thanks, Strelly. I admit it is a phrase I have never used in print. I did listen to "Sultans of Swing," but I can't say it was a favorite.

      I suppose I do deserve a tenner, don't I.....

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    3. You are not an Internet person, Bella.

      You are an overworked and underpaid college professor, and thus above any punishment.

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    4. Seriously, Strelly, I appreciate the correction. I need more proofreading than your average bear, due to a condition my students regularly throw at me as a reason why they cannot achieve anything beyond just this side of stoopid. BUT, as I know, and as I have demanded of students as a result of this hard won personal experience, where there is determination, there is often success. I just don't always give the same level of care to these posts on this site-----but I should. What we are doing here matters more than we realize sometimes.

      Sigh. I am going to go shopping now, and am wishing everyone here well!

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    5. "Telegraph Road" has kind of sad poetry about the gradual destruction of something that was once good. Fit's the CM vibe.

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  6. I have been known to show YouTube clips. On a particularly bad day, I showed my students part of a video about drunken monkeys. Am I bad?

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    1. It's only bad if that's the day your chair comes to evaluate you.

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    2. They really sit up and notice when you show an ARKive clip of bonobos doing it.

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    3. Proffie: speaking of bonobos..

      http://www.smbc-comics.com/?id=3139

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  7. In one of my classes, I had them watch 2010 on the day of the final.

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  8. I show a movie to analyze cultural, class, or gender assumptions, but it's never to simply kill time. If I'm simply killing time, I cancel class & give them an assignment to turn in that they can work on outside of class. I have a colleague whom I despise who just shows movies because she likes them and has no reason to show them beyond that fact.

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  9. Ever since Professor Retiredy McSilverback popped a "meet the author" video in for class after class instead of teaching, we've been prohibited from showing long films unless they are a text for analysis.

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    1. And excuse my awkward grammar. Need coffee.

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  10. I teach cinema. If we can't show movies, I'm out of a job. This sounds like a totally legit lesson to me.

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