Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Shhh! Don’t Tell Anybody, I’m Teaching The Hunger Games

 On second thought, it’s not that magic doesn’t exist in this world… it’s that we’re performing magic for blithering pustules of drooling ignorance.   I’m talking dummies, people!
 The students I have today rarely care or know about anything.  I descend into utter dismay when relegated to reference  Kim Kardashian and Kanye West when trying helplessly to explain the significance of Helen of Troy being abducted by Prince Paris, and you can only imagine how many cultural allusions I discard before painfully being forced to explain Hamlet’s soliloquies through the prism of Justin Bieber’s gross mistreatment from the Paparazzi. 
When Nelson Mandela died not 1 student in 200 could identify his picture.  Shouts from class were for “Einstein!”  “Michael Jordan!”  “Darth Vader!”  “Your Father!”  But not five minutes after scolding a group of perpetually rude boys for defiance and cursing and scribbling filthy words on my desks, I caught a kid in the act stealing my black Sharpie and etching: R.I.P. Paul Walker in gigantic scrawl across his table top.  
(Hartenstein poster from backpacking Czech Republic.  It's been hanging in my classroom for longer than most my students have lived)

It’s become so pathetic that I’ve begun teaching The Hunger Games.  Yes, I admit it.  When the only novels my 16 year old students know are The Three Little Pigs and Snow White, then we’re past cultural misunderstanding and entered into a new realm of disgust.  The thing about it is, I teach this dystopian novel not through the cutsie-quirky silly perspective of this sexy actress in her black leotard shooting a bow and arrow and tripping up stairs hilariously on a ball gown while accepting an Oscar… No!  I teach it through the perspective of a fed-up, disgruntled, pissed-off adult who says, “Yeah, we need a yearly Tribute!  We need a couple.  Let’s round up all these ignorant, foul-smelling, garbage leaving, spoiled rotten,  underpants showing, morons… and make ‘em fight to the finish.  Natural Selection.  Let’s do it!”
Honestly, I can’t remember a reason why a young person NEEDS to be in school?  Let them go dig ditches til their backs break!  Rake ravines til legs wobble in the dust!  Till soil til knuckles bleed!  Trench latrines til rank with grime!  Make them work on a farm for a year.  Let them hunt and forage food.  Sew their own clothes.  Walk to school in the snow.  Fend for themselves entirely.  Tell them to come back when they’re ready for someone like me.  I’ll show them the magic then.  They'll see it and finally understand.

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