My students for the most part don’t talk. Or at least not willingly. Nine times out of ten when I walk into a classroom the students will be doing anything but conversing. They will be playing on their phones and waiting for the class to start. The problem continues well into the class, and as a teacher I find it extremely difficult to great any kind of engagement among the students. Part of the problem is that they are boring people who simply don’t give a fuck about much of anything outside of shopping and their bullshit reality TV shows (and just as an FYI, this isn’t a China thing. This is pretty much the world over). I do try to engage them with questions throughout the class, and they do it for the sake of the assignment more than any passion a. bout the subject. The humor of this comes when I will ask the student to discuss something incredibly broad or complex (“how would you solve global warming?”) and thirty seconds later look to me and say “Ok I have finished”.
Really? There is nothing left to say about climate change? You’ve managed to cover it all in this class, have you? Fantastic.
So I am rather shocked when ex nihlo I get reams of conversation from the students. And I am often curious about what it is that sparks such consensus when it seems like nothing much else does.
Some time ago I was teaching a class, the topic of which was movies. The class was designed to teach functional language about movies, and among the target sentences was one rather disparaging piece about how a movie was only created to make a sequel. Let’s ignore for now that this is something of a stupid opinion. I parroted it to the students, and then added a quip that superhero movies do it a lot.
All at once, in unison, the classroom agreed. Everyone was shouting about this or that superhero movie, and how it was just a ploy to get a sequel in. Not only were they yelling these opinions to me, but they turned to each other and started to discuss! I have never got such enthusiastic classroom participation before. It was bizarre, and it was exactly what I wanted. I guess I should bitch about the MCU more often.