Thursday, October 8, 2009

We Will, We Will Rock You

My high school was:

* boring

* cliquish
* under-achieving.

The bar was set so very low.

So, at 15 yo, I took off overseas in search of a better high school education. I got it. But I didn't want my own kids to *leave the country* in order to access an experience that would challenge them in their teen years.

Vee & Keee are getting such a bizarrely rich education. Their math teacher is an MIT grad, ran the Dept of Health in two states, eep, and five years into retirement, Berkeley High called him and asked, "School starts in five days. Can you teach our Calculus class?"

Cool thing about this type of hiring -- the teacher has got nothing to lose. He his only concern is the kids. He doesn't really care if he keeps his job, but he does care if he gets through to the kids and leaves a legacy of knowledge and striving for excellence (and a lot of math-jokes goofing-off).

Other teachers are straight out of their masters program. Many from overseas. All, or at least all I have seen, have a deep motivation to teach -- forget the system and its requirements (or be so young you don't know it yet). Clear sitght -- do these kids know how to write? Can they speak extemporanesouly? Do they still have that spark of curiousity? If not, how do I respark it? Can they study hard? Can they push past that point of resistance? If so (who cares why) how can I help them build that muscle? What crazy thing can I do in class to get the ones who have been deadened to wake up?

Stand on the desks?

Attack the first student with a cell phone that rings?

Break into classrooms randomly and sing the periodic table?

Give the kids X-box remotes to take a group test with?

Yes, there are some weird teachers who do crazy things to wake up the kids.

If you ever want to see that the teenage years can be full of searching-for-knowledge (instead of what people normally say the teenage years are full of) then come with me to Berkeley High's Open House next year.

It's rough around the edges. Most definitely.

But that's how things get sharp.