Monday, January 26, 2009

Kids Say the Darndest Things

Sometimes you aim and miss. The administration ought to be plenty satisfied with my morning lit class, because almost all of them are passing. They read the books, they pass the tests, and I must be doing a fantastic job what with over 90% of them getting credit, and not just for "seat time."

But I'm not reaching them the way I want to.

"Did you like this book?" I asked the other day, in a thoughtless moment of honesty.

"No one likes books," ventured one kid, unmindful of the conversation that would ensue.

"People love books," I said. "Why do you think every town has a library? Why are those gigantic Barnes and Noble stores in the malls?"

"Only old people like books," said a young woman, with imprudent candor.

I don't remember how I responded to that, as designated representative for old people everywhere. I'm certain, though, it was not altogether favorable, because she said, "That's because you never had anything to do back then. We have computers and video games. We have Guitar Hero."

I really hate it when kids figure out how to push my buttons, especially when they do it completely by accident.

"You mean the game where you play fake music on fake guitars?" I asked.

This caused an avalanche of protest from my young charges. But my daughter has that game, kicked my butt in it, and I determined it would be much easier to play that music on a real guitar. In fact, I offered to give her one but she was having none of it. What's cool about a real guitar that you have to tune and practice when you can be up and running on the Wii in five minutes with your plastic Les Paul?

Another kid got up and made a boast even worse.

"No one in my country ever reads," he declared with pride.

I won't tell you where he came from, because it really doesn't matter. The only good I can glean from this is that it's not entirely our fault--he clearly had this attitude before we Americanized him.

The girl in the front, the one who dutifully does every assignment, nodded at the good points her classmates were making. She read the first book I issued, but gave it a bad review.

"It doesn't have enough SAT words in it," she complained.

I've got another few months to fool them into thinking reading is worthwhile. It's getting tougher to compete with the new toys, though, which seem to get better each year.
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