Education by Disney

I just had a horrifying conversation with my seniors.

I put a quote by Steven Biko on the board for them to reflect on for this morning’s writing exercise.  About a quarter of the way through the time I give them, I asked if anyone knew who Steven Biko was.  Big surprise, none of them did.

Now, to back up a bit, I have been specifically annoyed and generally infuriated lately by how little these kids are willing to work to connect information – they know so little about so little that they miss an astonishing number of connections and allusions that would make their experiences richer and more fruitful.  That they wouldn’t bother to do a quick internet search (most of them had their computers open in front of them) before they started writing was yet another example of that; even when the information is literally at their fingertips, none of them was curious enough to do even a rudimentary investigation of the work I was asking them to do.

That’s not what horrified me, though.  While I was explaining who Steven Biko was and under what conditions he lived (and died), I asked if anyone knew what Apartheid was.  One student said she DID know what Apartheid was because – and I swear to Goddess I’m not making this up – she’d learned all about it from a Disney movie.  Another kid piped up that he knew who Nelson Mandela was… because he’d seen a movie.

I despair for our future….



Filed under dumbassery, failure, frustrations, I can't make this shit up..., I've got this kid...., really?!, Yikes!, You're kidding...right?

6 responses to “Education by Disney

  1. socalledauthor

    To some extent, I’m with you. The lack of effort can be disappointing. However, I was a grade A scholar, loved learning, and yet, looking back, I was in many ways a stereotypical student. I did my work the best I could, but saved the extra effort for things that piqued my interest. In fact, I am surprised when I recall how I thought every book we read in high school was stupid or boring or impossible to understand. Yet, when I went back and read _To Kill a Mockingbird_ years later, I loved it. (_Great Gatsby_ is still not one of my favorites;-) I was the kid who could do fantastic work, when I wanted to, but other times, I was there to do ‘the high school thing’ complete the work so I could get my credits. It was the rest of my life where I put my effort (such as teaching myself HTML and web page design for fun.) When I realize this, I cut my students a little slack– they’re there primarily to get credit and learn things that seem interesting to them. When I teach, I either put in great efforts to get their interest or accept that they’re just doing what is required.

    You can lead a horse to water, as we say around here, but you can’t stop him from drowning himself…

  2. Sadly, I agree with your comments Mrs. Chili. I, too, was a good student in high school and like socalledauthor, I only put extra effort in work I was truly interested in. I realized a long time ago that the primary education system is geared to the lowest common denominator in order for all to succeed. That leaves someone (like myself) who has even the smallest inkling of intelligence usually bored silly. I did the required work, didn’t really have to study that much, and passed with flying colours. Granted I had some great teachers who let me explore on my own and trusted me.

    I totally understand your frustration with your students. Yes, there’s always someone to blame for everyone’s lack of attention (internet, movies, Sesame Street, video games, etc.) but you keep doing what you love and you’ll reach most of them.

    “A good question is never answered. It is not a bolt to be tightened into place but a seed to be planted and to bear more seed toward the hope of greening the landscape of idea. ”
    John Ciardi

  3. Pingback: Thought for Thursday: Learning « The Blue Door

  4. Try to find the clip from “Back to School” where Rodney Dangerfield’s English professor tells him why it’s better to read the book than watch the movie. Maybe that’ll have some resonance with them.

  5. Here’s the thing; I really have no problem with movies, and anyone who’s been reading here for any length of time knows that. I think movies are wonderful means of sparking interest, and I use film ALL THE TIME in my classroom.

    What bothers (frightens) me are the people who see a movie and then think they know what something is about. One should NEVER take as truth anything one sees in a film; they should only be jumping-off points. Even films that strive to be historically accurate still take liberties with an event, and anyone who thinks they understand something because they’ve seen the movie should be considered dangerous.

  6. What Biko quote did you use? And did you have a little Sweet Honey on the Rock as music to write by?

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