Wednesday, February 8, 2017

A DAY IN MY LIFE . . . .

  Because after all, who doesn't want to know the glory and grandeur of a schoolteacher's existence?

  Let's see - a restless night because my wife was leaving for San Antonio this morning, and she kept waking up and remembering something she needed to do - so she'd get up to go do it, and I'd stir and see she wasn't there and wonder if it was time for me to get up, which it finally was on about the third or fourth such awakening.  So I helped her pack up, carry her bags out, get my goodbye smooches and promises of a joyful reunion Saturday night (yes, after 32 years I still hate it when we are separated for more than a day!), and then get my own self combed, shaven, and ready for work. 

   I grab a couple of donuts on the way to school, then come on in and update my board - I keep a countdown of the number or days left in the school year, and a daily quote (this one was from Shakespeare - "Ignorance is the curse of God, while knowledge is the path that leads us to the heavens," I think it reads) on the whiteboard in the front of my room.  Then I track down a couple of students who didn't fill in their History Day entry forms completely and get the data I need from them, and by now the first bell of the day is ringing.

   First period is my Dual Credit U.S. History class.  We are talking about the last years of the Indian Wars today - from the Sand Creek Massacre to Little Bighorn, Chief Joseph, the hunt for Geronimo in the Sierra Madre, and finally the horrors of Wounded Knee and the Dawes Severalty Act.  It's an ugly chapter in American history, and I'm always glad to be done with it - but it does need to be taught.  Part of history is learning from our mistakes.  I do have a little spare time at the end of class, so we begin to talk about the great cattle drives of the 1880's right before the bell rings.

   Next was chapel.  We had a pretty good speaker today; he was preaching out of Proverbs 7 and his topic was "Are you Being Seduced?"  Needless to say, that got the high school students' attention, and he made some good points.  After chapel, it was time for my Freshman World Geography class.  We studied the contemporary issues facing Australia, New Zealand, SE Asia, and the Pacific Islands - from ecological and economic problems to the potential impact of global warming - and then we began working on learning the capitols of the countries in this region.

   Third period was my 8th grade U.S. History class - a sharp bunch with some world class wits (as well as one kid named Witt) in it.  We finished up the Presidency of Thomas Jefferson, talking about his achievements both as a founder and as a Chief Executive, and trying to figure out if he really belongs in the Top Four or not (I've always found Jefferson a tad overrated, a sentiment some historians are beginning to share).  After we finished the unit, I gave them a take-home test (great way to conserve class time, those are!) and we had a roundtable on some interesting military history questions a couple of the boys asked during the last ten minutes.

   I have a conference period right before lunch, and I had to mail in the entry forms to this year's regional History Day competition.  After running that to the Post Office, I got some Chinese take-out and sat at my desk, eating shrimp fried rice and reading WOUNDED TIGER by T. Martin Bennett, a wonderful biography of Mitsuo Fuchida, the Japanese aviator who led the Pearl Harbor attacks.  This signed first edition was a gift from a dear friend and former co-worker, and it is an enthralling read!

   After lunch it was time for Texas History, and today we finished up our discussion of the battle of the Alamo.  So many topics to discuss there - did Travis really draw that line in the sand, or was the whole story made up forty years later by William Zuber? Did David Crockett go down swinging, a la John Wayne, or was he captured and executed after the battle, as portrayed in the more recent (and historically accurate, I might add) movie version of the story, filmed in 2004?  Why do the accounts we have of the events differ on so many particulars?  It was a lively session!

    After them, another conference period.  I refilled my Diet Dr. Pepper, graded a few papers, and answered some Emails, and then it was time for World History.  We talked about the French monarchs of the Middle Ages, and then had a lengthy discussion about the Crusades - what they were about, who was involved, and how modern scholars, both Islamic and Western,  have so completely twisted this religious war of the Eleventh and Twelfth centuries out of its historic context that the participants of both sides would probably not recognize the conflict they fought in!

   Last of all comes my favorite class of the day - Modern America!  I created this course last year, but I had been asking permission to teach it for the better part of a decade.  Most U.S. History II survey courses simply don't get much past the Vietnam Era.  There is just too much material to teach, and doing justice to events like the World Wars, the Progressive Movement, and McCarthyism doesn't leave a lot of time for the events of the later twentieth and early twenty-first century.  Modern America class picks up with a broad view of the postwar era, covers the sixties and seventies in some detail, and then really zeroes in on the years from 1980 to the present. Today we were talking about the year 1992, and most of our focus was on the events of that summer and fall - the looming Balkan War, the botched Federal raid on Ruby Ridge that provided so much fodder to anti-government fanatics, and especially the election - how the jack-in-the-box candidacy of Ross Perot impacted the traditional two-man format and played a large role in the victory of Arkansas governor Bill Clinton.  But it wasn't all politics and grave world events - we also looked at the best and worst films of 1992, including BATMAN RETURNS (the last good Batman movie until THE DARK KNIGHT), MY COUSIN VINNY, and also a couple of the true turkeys that turned out that year, such as REVENGE OF THE NERDS: THE NEXT GENERATION and CRITTERS 4.

   Ooops! There goes the bell, and the school day is at an end.  I have frozen Red Wheel foods to get home, a Wednesday night church service to get to, and some ghouls to slay in DARK SOULS 3.  But this has been a snapshot of a typical day at my job - just a quick sketch, leaving out much of the banter, goofy jokes, and casual interactions with my students that make it such a joy.  At any rate, now you know a bit more about me.  Feel free to post comments and questions, and - oh, yeah, one more thing -

                                          GO TO AMAZON AND BUY MY BOOKS!!!  ROFL!

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