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Does Alex Trebek Make House Calls?

January 24, 2006


Mood: Horrified
Song: “Battle of New Orleans” (50 years early, I know, but my students wouldn’t 😦 *sigh*)

***Also titled: Why We Ought to Be On Our Knees or Composing Songs of Praise in Honor of the [Lindsay] Marshall Plan***

Today’s Assignment:
Write “I am a dedicated professional” 100 times

Poston’s lowest scores on last year’s AIMS (Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards-read, the ridiculous standardized test that determines our school’s earnings but does nothing to keep students accountable) test were generated in the area of “Historical and Cultural Aspects of Literature.” Not to nitpick, but the total number of questions classified in this area on the AIMS test: 2! However, my entire English department is racing around attempting to insert lessons focused on this miniscule portion of AIMS. I am a team player (plus I genuinely believe that literature wasn’t written in a vacuum, making history essential to the understanding of text) leading to this discussion as I was giving background notes on O. Henry’s “Twenty Years After”:

ME: 1862-1910. Those are the dates of William Sydney Porter’s (O. Henry’s) life. Please write them in your notebooks, since you most likely (ahem…will) be asked to recall them. Now, what important event in American history was going on when O. Henry was born?

STUDENT #1: The Great Depression!

ME (secretly pleased that a student is actually familiar with Black Tuesday): Well, interesting idea, but you’ll have to think earlier. The depression started in 1929.

STUDENT #2: Ummmm…The Revolutionary War?

ME (thinking that at least they’re getting warmer): You’re right about a war, but we’re looking for something later than the late 1700’s.

STUDENT #3: Oh! I know-World War II.

ME (inwardly sighing): Almost, but that happened after the Great Depression.

STUDENT #6 (students 4 and 5 listed Vietnam and WWI, respectively): Is it the Civil War?

ME (thrilled but concerned at the same time): Excellent! The Civil War. Who can tell me the name of the President of the United States during the Civil War?

***Side Note: the quote of the day, written on the board, happened to be by Abraham Lincoln***

SHOW OF HANDS-I RANDOMLY CALL ON A STUDENT IN THE BACK OF THE ROOM

STUDENT #7: Franklin Roosevelt, right?

ME (counting down the minutes until I can sprint to the school nurse for aspirin): *sigh* Close.

The worst part? I watched Ken Burns’s ENTIRE Civil War documentary in my 5th grade class and have been a diligent student with the War Between the States ever since. I am proud to say that I resisted the temptation to list all the major battles of 1862, including the generals. Fredericksburg, anyone?

My students constantly amaze me by what they know and are able to recall (I don’t even remember what I wore last week), but there are days when I just have to recall the quote, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

Go home tonight and call your history teacher to say thanks.

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One comment

  1. I have a plan?! Cool. 🙂



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