Saturday, September 22, 2012

Guns Don't Kill People... Oh Wait, They Do.

I don't know anything more about this story than is told in the article.  Unknown gunman shooting at a house, hit a sleeping 11-year old, expected to survive.  However, I know this much: this is not a unique occurrence.  It made it to the news because it injured an innocent kid.  Sometimes those stories don't make it.  Sometimes they miss the kid and everyone just goes on with their lives.

In my second year of teaching, I got a note that said, "Please excuse my daughter from not doing her homework.  The gangs was shooting and she had to sleep in the closet."  Other kids would talk about sleeping in the bathtub in case bullets from drive-by shootings went through walls, they probably wouldn't go through the bathtub too.  I was so shocked that I didn't even know how to respond. 

These kids live like this.  Not once in their lifetime, but many, many nights, they hear shooting and they are afraid, they sleep in the closet or the bathtub to give the bullet more obstacles, or (maybe the worst option), they just keep sleeping because they are used to it.  This is not in an official war zone, not in the Third World, but less than four miles from some of the most affluent houses I tutor at. 

There are so many things wrong with this, I don't know how to begin.  The fact that we have this kind of poverty so close to extreme wealth.  The fact that gun rights people keep talking about how guns don't kill people and they're just a tool (no one is seeing drive-by knife throwings!).  The fact that my family, my friends, and my own self don't ever have to think about this, ever, because we have enough money to not live in an area where we might accidentally be shot in our sleep, but my Little Sister doesn't.  Or that in what I think is still the most prosperous, powerful nation in the world has children who are completely used to the danger of being ACCIDENTALLY SHOT IN THEIR SLEEP.

I don't even know what to say or do. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

How To Outsmart a Teenage Boy, Part II

I often tell people that my strength isn't teaching, per se, it's my ability to have a relationship with my students.  Part of that relationship is getting them to do what I know they need to do, and as any parent or teacher knows, this involves a fair amount of manipulation, for their own good.  I don't mean pathological manipulation, I mean healthy manipulation.

I first wrote about outsmarting teenage boys here.  I had another episode with a boy I'm tutoring and I was very proud of myself.

Me: I need you to read your writing aloud so that you can catch your mistakes.

Him: That is too embarrassing.  If I do that, I will be embarrassed.

Me: Is that a picture of you in a TeleTubby costume on the wall?

Him: Fine, I'll read it.

This is what I mean by "healthy manipulation."  We could have wasted the whole session arguing.  Instead, it took 20 seconds, he caught his mistakes, he realized how to edit his own writing, (and I think he liked the attention of me noticing that photo as well).