Monday, January 30, 2017

Flies, Redux

It's that time again.  I've written before about how my colleague and I let our classes elect a chief, as the boys do in Lord of the Flies.  It's an interesting, if somewhat frustrating, pedagogical "moment."  Every year--indeed, every class period--is different, but we have always found benefit in doing this exercise.

It replicates some of the aspects of youngters living unsupervised, bringing some of the themes of the book more obviously to life.  This happens most clearly when you try to look at the story through a thematic lens of human nature--what people are like in difficult circumstances.

It's satisfying when you see confirmed before you your expectations of which students will hum along just fine without any real supervision...about as much as it is strangely compelling when those students you think will completely exploit the system and do absolutely nothing confirm your worst fears.

I admit, it's also pleasantly affirming when the student chief stands before the class and explains his/her frustrations with what the students are doing.  We've heard more than one, "I have a new found respect for the teachers."

And then sometimes it's just fun.  Today, one class had a sit-in protest.  (We just did a unit on civil rights, and I think they got the idea from that.)  They succeeded in removing their interim chief (the regular chief is absent) for the remaining 9 minutes of the period.

I've lost track of how many coups we (my colleague and I) have had, sponsored or fomented.  Almost no classes make it more than 3 days without some sort of distress.  One year, one class finally got so annoyed with all that was happening that they held a new election...and I won, even though I wasn't running.  Like Sally Field, "I have to admit like me.  Right now, you really really like me."

Ultimately, the exercise and the book are particularly worthwhile...and I'm sure they meet some Common Core Standard or other.

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