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30 Oktober 2005

starting to count the gray hairs....

OK, (by the way, please see previous post for Halloween entry), I have to vent. Normally I don't make a practice of repeating some of the cute, unknowingly, well, kinda dumb things some students say because well, that would be cruel and inappropriate, but I have to share. I mean, I say completely stupid things every single day I teach and I'm sure half the time something's unzipped or not matching or I have something on my face or there's something wrong, not to mention I'm sure I make a complete ignoramus of myself every time I try to work on my own research and writing. Just so you know I'm not trying to be all Holly Hobby High Horse here. These are just observations.

I figure that since I doubt my students read my blog, we are all covered. And if they do, well, now you know a little bit more about why you can drive your instructor insane. Just a little, just sometimes. But it's starting to compound, and you're making me crazy!

The scenario and lesson topic: former East (herewith the "DDR", Deutsche Demokratische Republik) and West Germany (herein the "BRD", Bundesrepublik Deutschland). The DDR and BRD were established in 1949 and continued as separate systems/nations/what-have-you until re-unification on October 3, 1990. OK, easy enough, right? And by the way we'd gone over dates, places, names, etc. in our unit so we were all down with everything and I think some of them enjoyed the more 'history lesson' vibe of everything.

To supplement the information in our textbook and, frankly, to wake the darlings UP, I showed a segment of the film
"Goodbye Lenin" (2003) because the story takes place before and during revolutions leading up to the re-unification. I figured some images might help tie a few things together, so I prepared some pre-viewing things to think about. For example, I asked the class why the brands Coca-Cola, Burger King, and McDonald's might be significant in a story about a family living in a centrally-planned economy moving into a free market economy (yes, I'm using big words there, I know, but we'd actually gone over 'zentral geplanntes Wirtschaftssystem' and 'freie Marktwirtschaft' so we were all good). These 'western' brands as symbols of the free market, capitalism, other words, not in the agenda of the DDR.

And one kid goes:

"So did they like ban all the McDonald's when the DDR started?"

Yes, I'll give you a moment to read that again.

Here you go: pause:

scroll down....

Rolling in my grave already*,

OK, so I have to add that I also try to suggest little nuggets of thinking in class, such as 'so, if this was the RE-unification, when the heck was the UNI-fication? Who-what-where-when-why!" Not in a condescending way, but just to not have to spoonfeed EVERY. FREAKING. THING.

Like a history prof I had in college (back in the days when everything was better, everyone was smarter, and life was not as easy, hehe, did I sound old 'n crochety just now?) used to say "When you see something called the "First Punic War", you just KNOW a "Second Punic War" is coming at some point, so, keep an eye out!" By the way, sorry to get sidetracked on the Punic Wars, but to this day, I regret not going to Carthage while in Tunisia. Oh well, I was having too much fun in the Sahara being internationally mysterious, trying to be served a hooka at cafes to no avail ("you are a woman, we can't serve you here in front of all these virile men, it would conflate with our norms! But may I buy you a mint tea, oh Blonde One, and show you the view from my cousin's rug dealership...")

So my point of this mild rant is, damn, can people just THINK? Or is that too much to ask? I'm not talking specialized facts. I'm talking a display of some initiative to seek more. Because being in college is a pretty darn nice thing that not everyone gets.

And of course it is here that I must mention how much I appreciate and admire those kids who ARE taking initiative and putting a foot forward.

Share YOUR special student and/or learning 'doh!' moments in the comment area below!

*According to the Wikipedia entry on McDonald's, the first of this company's franchises in the BRD was established in 1971. This was the first McDonald's to serve beer. This was also the year that I was born. Koinky-dink? Eww, I have to get the question "So if McDonald's didn't get to Germany til 1971, what did Germans eat before then?" out of my head! Be gone, voices!