I’m reading a poetry test aloud to a group of 8th grade students. The next question is a thinking question.
Me: “What season was this poem written about. Okay, I’m not even going to make you look for the hint. I’m going to tell you the hint. ‘yellow wood’ The author is walking in a yellow wood.
Students: blank looks.
Me: “Yellow wood means the leaves have turned yellow. In what season are our leaves yellow. I’m going to narrow your choices to two..spring or fall. Do our leaves turn yellow in the spring or the fall?’
I watch as one student chooses summer.
Me (voice rising): “Summer!!! I said, spring or fall! Why would you choose summer?”
Student: “Well it says something about grass in the poem.”
Me: “I know. That’s why I gave you the yellow wood hint, so you wouldn’t be confused. Yellow. The leaves have turned yellow.”
I watch the students choose spring.
Me (voice rising more): “Spring!! The answer is fall! Fall! All the leaves are turning yellow! You know, people go out to look at the fall colors! The leaves turn yellow in the fall.”
Student (indignantly slapping his hand on the desk, and snarling): “How are we supposed to know that?”
Me (staring at the student): “Um. By being ALIVE.”
Seriously. That was my day. I read the test 3 times to 3 different groups of students. By the end of the day, I was sitting at my desk with my left eyelid twitching. Yes, these are special education students, but about 90 percent of them are A.D.D. They have completely average intellectual ability. Most of them plan on going to college. I hate to make general, global statements, but sometimes it’s hard not to. It used to be that most of your students worked and cared about school and you had a handful that didn’t, now it seems like it’s reversed. You have a handful that care and the majority don’t want to work, they don’t want to think, they become angry when you expect them to.