Monday, January 21, 2013

Power failure

So I walk into fifth period at lunch, and lo and behold I didn’t realize that what was a pretty mild day was going to become an exercise and Friday patience.

Here’s a point of context; I was exhausted.  Lately basketball games have become much harder to “come down from”, and this has resulted in much less sleep as of late.  In this case I didn’t get to bed until a little before midnight while getting up at the usual five a.m.  Ew.  On top of that my students and my basketball team just started getting the flu.  By second period I was coughing and yawning.  By lunch I felt like someone had attached cement blocks to my legs.  By fifth period I had a headache and I realized that my tired body was more like a fatigued body.  Yeah, this is a severe “uh-oh” moment. 

But I moved on and did the best I could to cheerfully welcome my last period of the day.  The first order of business; reminding them that the flu virus was going around and if they got it that they should drink fluids and stay home.  Then news and a couple of questions from the students, followed by the beginning of my lesson; a look at the students human capital and the impact of potential technology replacement.  The other Economics classes had gone smooth:

-Student list their own human capital and we discuss. 

-We then figure out how to refine their human capital to better address what they want to do in life.  We get rid of generic terms and discuss labor specialization.

-I have students then reflect on what human capital attributes could be replaced by technology, or be enhanced by technology.

-I then have the students view part (a little over half) of a 60 Minutes piece on technology taking over minimum skill jobs.

-Finally I have the kids outline a short idea of how they would deal with potential technological issues influencing their human capital.

Fifth period’s lesson started after news as we wrote down human capital attributes of the students.  While they brainstormed I prepped the 60 Minutes video, letting the Viagra add run through and pausing so the kids didn’t have to deal with it.  I then had kids write down their own elements of human capital.  That was when the power went out.  It came back on ten seconds later.

Having the power go out in a high school class is amusing.  In the lesser managed classes one can hear absolute pandemonium.  In my class there are a couple of whoops and one “Looks like we get to go home now”, and that’s about it.  Oh, and this is Friday and this is the last class of the day for almost all of these students.  I can imagine that some classes might look like a scene out of Animal House at this point. 

When the power comes back on I don’t miss a bit.  The kids continue to write down human capital elements and I add on that I want them to write down their career choices, and then explain how their human capital might enhance it.  I go back to the laptop and prep the 60 Minutes piece.  We begin to discuss the human capital papers; drawing conclusions about common attributes and discussing how specialization makes them more desirable to more fields of work.  They the power goes off again.  This time there is laughter as I roll my eyes.  Ten seconds.  Power comes back on.  I don’t miss much of a beat and continue the discussion.  I then tell the students that I want them to take a look at human capital attributes and determine which might be heavily influenced, or replaced, by technology.  Then I head over to the laptop to prep the video for the third time. 

And the power goes out again.  Only this time it stays off. 

At this point I’m guess that God hates 60 Minutes since the show has gotten soft after Andy Rooney and Mike Wallace died.  The students are now quite amused and I’m left with a twenty minute class period that is in a classroom that is fairly lit with natural light, and a hole in my lesson plan.  Shit happens.

I continue the discussion about technology and students share their concerns about how technology impacts their ability to use their human capital.  The discussion actually gets real good.  These Seniors actually see a threat from younger kids that are growing up on tablet computers.  Some offered examples of their siblings and family knowing tablet skills at three years old, something that they didn’t know until the last couple of years.  Then the conversation went to a fear of technology and the school rules about cell phone policies.  We then discussed teachers’ human capital and how it might influence the fear of technology overwhelming the classroom.  It was a good afternoon in the dark.

With five minutes left in class it became evident that a couple of teachers had let their students out early to roam in the warm afternoon of Mendocino County.  Regularly I might have a chance.  On a Friday afternoon it was not going to happen.  I popped my head outside and noticed teacher doors open and students hanging out in the grass outside of the building.  Oh well.  I let students hang outside and talked with them until the bell rang. 

Waste of class time?  Well, teaching is a lot about picking battles and maybe I could have extended the conversation to a different realm or maybe I could tack on a weak assignment.  But what’s the point?  That’s busy work personified and I would be going really against the grain on a Friday with friends wandering outside.  All in all, I’d call it a success.

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