The metro ride has become a routine. As the train lazily glided across the tracks, I sipped my coffee and read the Times, as I slowly shook off my sleepy demeanor. When I reached my transfer point, the green line was already there, seemingly waiting for me to get there. I could tell. It was going to be a good day.
I entered the school building, with a stronger, more confident walk than ever before and passed through the metal detector without any problems. Signing in as a guest at the school, the police officer even smiled at me. I walked down the stairs, only getting lost a record one time, before reaching my final destination of Mr. Spike’s room.
I truly enjoyed the second period. Spikes started off the class by watching a broadcast video made by a reporter at the Washington Post. The video was flawed, but it was still at its basic level journalism, which made me happy. To this point, the class had consisted primarily of learning how to maneuver through Adobe and various other computer programs. To finally start talking about journalism was a positive experience for me. I finally felt like it was my place to speak out to the rest of the class, in an attempt to offer my help.
We then transitioned into watching another video by National Geographic. This video focused on solving the question of “who is the average human being.” In other words, the video used statistics to find out what a crashed alien was most likely to see on our planet. In the end, it turned out that it was a 28-year-old Han Chinese man. Interesting. Even more interesting though, was how captivated the students were by this clip.
Most of the students seemed surprised by the findings, and for me, it made clear another problem with the educational experience in a school like Roosevelt. I believe that many of the students here have a more isolated lifestyle, than I had growing up. I wouldn’t be as arrogant as to say I was cultured when I was younger, but I was made aware of cultures outside of my town, state and country, mostly due to the school I attended. One example of this could be found when Spikes asked the classmates who was the most average after watching. One boy raised his hand and yelled confidently,
- “A 28-year-old Chinese man.”
Spikes than corrected him saying that it was in fact a Han Chinese man. The student than sarcastically replied.
- “But he’s Chinese —ain’t he.”
Another example of this disconnect between their community and those of other countries could be found in their responses to the great amount of poverty outside the United States. When they found out how much water was consumed in Ethiopia compared to the states for example, some of the students were shocked. It is facts like these that can really help give someone perspective, and I believe that this is what happened to these students. For the first time, since I started at Roosevelt, I felt like there was a meaningful relaying of lessons being passed from teacher to student. It felt good to be a part of the teaching staff.
In the next period, I once again helped out with whom I’ll call the three stooges. In reality though, it should be called the 2 stooges, and the poor girl that can’t get any work done because of the other two stooges. Although, three stooges is probably a more catchy name. This group consists of the teacher, who I’ll definitely call one of the stooges, due to her silly attitude, and inability to teach, the devil-girl, who consistently does no work and tries to sleep in class, and the poor girl who can’t seem to get any work done with the other two. I have made it my “mission” to try and help this girl named Shonice, and I can actually sense that my words of encouragement have been successful in doing so.
While the Teacher-stooge went off with the devil, I proceeded to help the other girl with the work she was doing. She was trying to create a flyer for an event they were having in the following week, and she actually made great strands. More important than giving her content-based advice was that I was trying to help her gain some confidence in herself. Sometimes she would say things like, “so, what do you want me to write.” My response would consistently be, “what do you want to write? What do you think would come next?” And what I found every time, was that she would write down a great sentence. Too often, students become stenographers, writing down what the teacher wants them too, but they would be better off if they were given the opportunity to trust themselves, and write down what feels right to them.
When she finished her flier, she sat confidently, looking over her final product. It was then that the devil emerged from the other side of the room, and with a small grimace on her face, hit the power button on the non-stooges computer. Shocked, I asked her why she did it, and called over the Stooge-teacher. As expected, the devil received no punishments but to say she was sorry to the other student, who had lost all of her work due to her deed.
After helping her complete her assignment another time, I then went and helped another journalism class. In this class, the teacher Mr. Kim, had the right idea. The class consisted of pure journalism and reporting. Each student in the class chose one topic, and pursued it. One wrote about go-go dancing. Another wrote about school lunches being “unhealthy and just nasty”. One girl took a rather intriguing approach. She was writing about murder.
I was shocked when she told me about her project. She was writing about the fact that three people from Roosevelt High School had been murdered that year. Even the wording of how she told me this information was surprising.
- “Yeah, three have been killed. Two were friends, and they got shot in the head.”
She said it so casually, as if she didn’t just give me a graphic description of a murder in her own neighborhood. We’re not in Kansas any more. Or rather, I’m not in Foggy Bottom anymore.