Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Old, Old Song, and the Never-ending Battle Between Students and Teachers

Last year I had a student who was a big fan of the band Queen. Actually I don't know the precise extent of his love for the band, but I'm certain he enjoyed the song, "We Will Rock You." I know this because he was fond of the rhythm, and regularly expressed it by stomping on the floor and hitting the desk. At first a look would stop it, but as the year wore on it became longer and more persistent, and more and more students would join in.

Toward the end of the year it got long enough that he actually started singing, "We will, we will rock you," once or twice. It was kind of cute that the class joined him, and kind of funny that it started apropos of nothing. So the first few times it got that far I kind of did a slow burn and let them do it.

After a while, though, I realized my neighbor in the adjacent trailer was not as tolerant as I was. After all, where in the Danielson rubric were we gonna get points for organized singing? So I decided to put a stop to it. "You can't do that anymore until you learn the verses," I proclaimed, and it stopped for a few days.

However, the next time it started, he actually had the words. I couldn't really verify whether or not they were correct since I don't know the verses myself. There was something pretty funny about hearing them sung with an accent far different from that of Freddie Mercury, but once again I thought about being a good neighbor, and told him, "You haven't learned the verses. You're reading them."

Decades of experience had led me to notice such things.

My crestfallen student went home, but a few days later committed the words to memory and once again led the ever-popular chant. This was vexing. I had cleverly stopped it, but he rose to every challenge. Who the hell did he think he was, thwarting my evil plans like that? There was only one more card I could play.

"Do you know how old that song is?" I asked.

"It doesn't matter," he proclaimed.

"That song is so old that I listened to it when I was in high school."

There was an audible gasp.

And no longer was "We Will Rock You" heard in the NYC Educator trailer.
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