23 September 2008

Teacher punishment: Fire drills. Student punishment: Reading the New York Times

(Fire alarm rings as the class is two paragraphs into a four-page New York Times article about Berea College, a Kentucky college that provides free tuition to its low-income students )

Various student voices: Oh, thank goodness! About time! Woo hoo!

Me: Hey! I'm right here!

James: We're too tired to suck up right now.

Me: Hmmm. Too bad.

(Later, the fire drill over, the article read and written about)

Me: So did anyone write that they'd be interested in going to Berea?

Darren: I wouldn't go there. The education isn't good.

Me: The article doesn't discuss that, but why do you think this?

Darren: If the education is free, then it can't be worth anything.

Me: So. If I gave you a Jaguar, you'd turn it down?

Darren: What?

Me: If I gave you a fancy car like a Jaguar, you'd turn it down because it wouldn't be worth anything?

Darren: No, that doesn't make sense.

Me: Exactly. The Jag still costs a lot of money and is valuable, but I'm giving it to you. I'm just not making you pay for it. The free tuition is a gift to you. Just because it's a gift and doesn't cost you anything doesn't mean it's not valuable.

Darren: Ohhh. I guess. That makes sense.

Me: That's why I get the big bucks.

John (quietly to Donald ): You know, I bet she does.

Me: Only some days . . .

(In the hall)
Student: Did you hear about that fire last night?

Other student: Yeah! I heard the sirens!

Student: It was on my street. Man, seeing that house burn was hot!

(As the New York Times articles are being distributed)
Audrey: Miss? Are we reading New York Times articles as punishment? You said that last year's class had to read these after they lost all your books.

Me: Of course not! You haven't lost my books yet, so this is fun, not punishment.

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