Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Got a message from NINE yesterday: The Tribune's print edition will no longer be available for my classroom. They'll give me a free online E-version subscription. But no more dead tree version.

I give up. I've lost the battle.

For years, I've converted class after class to the joys of a print newspaper (in theory, anyway). I taught them how to Scan the Headlines Over Coffee. How to Fold it Irritably, how to Hide Behind It in a Crowd, and (my personal favorite) how to Read the Fucking Thing and Ignore the Dumb Ads.

I scored these frugal victories in the face of competition from reality television, Stephanie Meyer books and the drone and whine of our heady froth of pop culture. And now the Trib itself is saying, "Sorry, pal, but those sugar-addled, pizza-faced trolls aren't worth it." Nice. Validation goes miles in my world.

Time for a new lesson plan: How to be a Know-Nothing Pundit. I am now the Mr. Irwin of Media and Journalism Studies. The Machiavelli of Reporting 101. Ideals be damned. Work with the world as it is.

My first words to class tomorrow: "All right, who here can use the phrase "liberal cream puff" in a 200-word rant against Obama? The winner gets an internship."

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Draft for an Advent Calendar for the Last Days of School

Yeah, it's only April. But we're getting there. And my patience is frayed beyond belief. So:

The Last Thirty Days of School (first eleven)
30. Insult a student in every class using Latin. Like, Scholas es stolidus.
29. Show a film clip completely unrelated to anything you’re doing. Preferably one with Traci Lords.
28. Put brandy in your coffee this morning. (More than usual, anyway)
27. Use the word merde casually. See how many kids pick up on it.
26. Take a prescription drug that’s not yours. (from your spouse, parent, brother, pregnant cousin, etc.)
25. Trade prescription medicine with a co-worker.
24. Rename your students using derogatory immediate surface details. "What did you get for number five, Push-up Bra?" "Nice to see you this morning, Smells Like Feet."
23. Don’t wear underwear today. Are you wearing it right now? Get it off. Don’t even bother leaving the room.
22. Imagine yourself as a nun in the sixteenth century for the day. Think corporal punishment, rote memorization, and a low-key subtext of homosexuality.
21. Walk into an administrator’s office. Pretend it’s yours. Use their desk. Make some calls. Tell them, “I might ask what the hell are you doing here?”
20. End every lesson with, “And that’s how you achieve orgasm. For tomorrow, casing the playgrounds.”

Friday, April 03, 2009

The Class is a film that actually shows what it's like to be a teacher...

...and I haven't cooked up a worthwhile review of it yet. Or anything meaningful to say. So check it out yourself, why don't you? It's playing in Chicago, and will be for a while, as far as I know.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

In honor of National Poetry Month, a work from William Carlos Williams:
so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white
If I'm teaching juniors next year, I'm so assigning essays on this bad boy. They'll hate me. They'll call me "Wheelbarrow." Yeah.
i couldn't wait
to grade

your wheel barrow

but i still shredded
them up

along with the white