Tuesday, September 09, 2008

A pair of teaching conundra

I always have my kids write an in-class on the second day of school. I like to see what kind of hand I've been dealt. This year, I had them bring in an article from any section of the newspaper and write an opinion paper based on some issue from that article.

Conundrum #1: I'm not sure how to handle the kid who has loads of garbage fictional hateful rumors about a political candidate as "backing." It's obviously important enough to him that he's memorized the email/hateful website it contains. Did you know Barack Obama gave a speech about Afghanistan with unfiltered questions, and all he did was mumble in response, and then had the program removed from the radio? Did you know he tried to meet with Al Qaeda while in Afghanistan?

The kid did a lot of things well, touting Palin's experience as governor and condemning those who say her being VP is bad for her family. I don't agree with those, but at least they're based on fact. I didn't deduct points for his BS fictions (after all, this was an in-class diagnostic write, not a research paper), but I did call him on it and said he's way better off when he writes things that are true. But when he says "But my family showed me the email that said these things!", well, that'll be a tough row to hoe, especially considering that I don't want to reveal my politics.

I think I'll talk about the crazy lefty conspiracy theories, get him riled up about that, and then say that the same thing happens on the other side sometimes. He needs to be sure of these things factually, and support his party on the basis of facts, not fictions. But he may already be lost to the dark side of believing bullshit emails and websites (although I can't find a website that supports what he claimed).

Conundrum #2: I've got a smart girl in AP who I'm confident will write good essays on the exam (although she, like the rest of that class, has a way to go). Is it appropriate to tell her that it's time to stop dotting her i's with little hearts? Like it or lump it, I do think that it won't help the impression she makes on the AP graders. Do I leave this one alone?

Hmmm. My political self-censorship ends tomorrow night. But even though I'm putting the politics tag on this one, I don't feel I've violated it. This is about work, not politics.


Paula said...

I always challenge bullshit, usually pointing it out on both sides. Have you tried typing "McCain" into snopes to see what ridiculous stuff is out there about him? And yes, I'd tell the little lady that the hearts have to go.

Anonymous said...

I think I would want to know if the AP judges might not look favorably upon the little hearts--you can provide the information and let her make her own decision. Maybe there is something more complicated here that I am missing?

I wish I had you as a teacher--I am so amazed every time I read your posts. They are lucky kids...