Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The State of Things

 You'll find no solutions within this post, only reflections.  I thought it would be good as well as interesting for my students to do a journal entry on a current event and so off we went to the computer lab. The assignment was to find 2 current events on any of the websites that I provided and then respond to them in their journals. Why did you find this interesting/ what caught your attention, how did it make you feel when you read it, what does it say about the state of our world, and how was it relevant to you were the questions I asked them to respond to.   I told them as writers and as human beings it was imperative that they be aware of the world around them. That we as a race of people are connected and our writing is influenced by that.
As the period waned towards lunch time I had a vague feeling it wasn't going as well as I had hoped. Audible grumbling could be heard about how they didn't care about any of the things they were finding, but I was reluctant to intervene, I didn't want to pick the articles for them. With a few minutes left we met back together in the classroom and I asked them to share a little of what they had found. The first girl to raise her hand was one of the brightest students in my class. She also has the worst attitude, and is not always eager to share, but when she does it is usually very insightful. So of course I eagerly called on her and awaited her inspired response. "China is going to the moon."......... Ah, ok. How do you feel about that? "Good." Wonderful. I would tell you the rest of the exchange but it only goes down hill from there. Needless to say I don't think she got exactly what I was going for.  Not a problem, surely someone else will have something along the lines of what im looking for. Wrong again. Ill suffice it to say that the highlight of the next few articles was a Brazilian clown getting elected to congress, or something.   I was ready to just let them go to lunch 5 minutes early when finally someone raised their hand and talked about a bombing in pakistan and the children that were killed. 
During the in-suing discussion my students came to a general consensus that we as a society are desensitized to violence and as a result it doesn't effect us. Ok I said, that makes sense, but does that make it any less horrible. I knew the answer I expected to hear, but surprisingly that wasn't the response that came out.  Yes, they said, it does.  As long as it doesn't happen to us or someone we know, we don't care about it. It doesn't effect us so why should we be concerned with it? I can honestly say that caught me off guard, not to mention it was past time to go, so all I managed to muster was, "Really? That's interesting." 
Of course after they left, countless responses sprang to mind, all of which I wanted to beat them over the head with. But as I sat and reflected I realized more and more that we are all like that to an extent.  The parade of bad news that flashes across our screens every day at the most, makes us pause and reflect, before we move on and immediately forget.  Are these kids so different from the rest of us, these children who dismiss injustice and violence so easily.  Or, are they a scaled down version of each one of us. A version without the knowledge and foresight to know the politically correct way to respond to other people's bad news. The version we don't like to admit exists. Like I said, I don't have the answer, but it's definitely something to think about.