Sunday, September 29, 2013

The kids are alright.

It's not just a mod anthem from the Who, it pretty accurately describes how things are going down at the ol' schoolhouse this year.

Class #1: Grade 12 Earth and Space Science

Whenever I tell anyone that I teach this class, their first response is usually, "That's a thing?" And when I respond that, yes, indeed, it is -- although not all schools offer it, and it's only been around for the past eight-ish years -- people wonder what's in it. Technically it's 3 units of earth science (rocks and minerals, processes, earth's history) and 2 space (cosmology, solar system)... but, let's face it, I'm an astrophysics guy, it's half-and-half.

With 20 kids in it, this might be the biggest one we've had so far. But I'll tell ya, these are 20 of the quietest kids I've ever seen. Normally you can count on any given class having 3 or 4 real characters to liven the place up, but this class really doesn't have one. Having it in the morning doesn't really help either, because a lot of kids are still half-asleep, especially if the schedule of the day makes it first period. Also, I may or may not have called this assemblage of kids "a bunch of cardboard cut-outs." To them.

Class #2: Grade 9 Science (morning)

They're young, they're dumb, and collectively they have the worst taste in music I've ever seen. They were born in 1999 (excepting the couple of kids who are in grade 10 and taking this course), which is ridiculous -- and also explains their terrible taste in music.

But alas, I think about myself at their age, and... well, yes, I knew some Beatles songs. But I clearly recall the summer between grade 8 and 9, practically wearing out my Poison album -- and no, I don't mean the hair-metal band, I mean the album by New Jack Swing vocal group Bel Biv DeVoe. (Look, it was a dark time in my life.)

I can't go around judging 14-year-olds by adult standards. They don't know what the hell they're doing. I just don't really know how best to point them, musically, in the right direction without just straight-up making fun of who they listen to. Perhaps I'll figure out five songs they need to hear, and dispatch them to YouTube. But that's tricky; you can't just give them a huge dose of awesome right off the bat, you've gotta work up to it.

As for the actual science-y stuff? They're doing fine.

Class #3: Grade 9 Science (afternoon)

It's bigger, louder and perhaps not as academically strong as its morning counterpart. But that's alright; their friends in the morning class probably tell them what's on tests and whatnot. Believe me, they need the help.

One thing I refuse to do is yell. Remember the mom from "Malcolm in the Middle"? Her normal speaking-voice was a yell, and the kids learned to tune that out pretty effectively. Same goes for teaching. Hell, when I really wanna rattle 'em, I pause for a long time and then speak really quietly. Freaks 'em out good.

High school teaching: Psychological warfare with teenagers, three times a day.