November 15, 2010

dog and pony show...

This week is my second round of open classes. You may remember that in April I was subject to similar scrutiny (re-read). Where my biggest fear and enemy proved to be my inability to tie a tie. Well I have some good news, I am not going to wear a tie this time around. I've slain that evil through pure avoidance.

Instead I'm left with a larger fear, lack of control. In my previous open classes, I was able to control and dictate the pace, and direction of the class. I chose the story we would read, and I would throw out random questions to my kids. I felt quasi confident in this process, because I could quash any unwanted silence. If a child bottled up, I could simply direct the question somewhere else. All in all, I could fill awkward silence with some child's voice.

This time around I won't be so lucky, I will have minimal control over most of the class. My kids will be presenting an adventure story they wrote. For most people this would be awesome, perhaps even kickass, me, I'm left quaking in my boots. Korean children, like many children I'm sure, crack under the watchful gaze of their parents. The bright, lovely, outgoing students quickly become mutes, it's as if their parents presence creates an invisible gag in their mouths. That is a huge reason I loved to be able to control things, and quickly adapt as the class went on.

Tomorrow they will be thrust under the limelight, or halogen (or whatever light the projector uses), and will recite a story. That as well should be pretty simple, yet the school has decided that it wants the children to memorize the story. Not even a cue card can be used to bail them out.

I have a couple objections to this kind of torture... First with the presentation style. It takes a couple of years of practice before most people don't require cue cards anymore. It took me all of high school and the beginning of college before I started to save trees, and ditch the paper. Yet I was still taught speech class that it was completely fine to rely on cue cards. The invisible safety net would be a great benefit to my kids, considering what happened to some last May. Tomorrow the stress will be cranked, parents will be watching, and hell even the Obama doesn't memorize his speeches.

Tactics aside, as there is little I can do to change the format. My objections for presentations are insignifigant considering my feelings for the students memorizing them. Yet I slightly (silently) objected to the presentations in the first place. This is because the school stated they want the open class to be an average class, and not appear to be staged. I have never, not once held presentations in this class. With that knowledge in hand, it is clear, it will be staged (dance monkey dance) I don't object, really! I love presentations. Okay, slight rephrase, I love giving presentations, I'm not a huge fan of standing on the sidelines.

In the end, I'd love to be able to absorb all the stress in the room to take it off my kids. Perhaps I'll bring a sponge, and try to deflect the tension into that. At the very least I have to know that I've done all I can, and I hope to shit that my kids surprise me and memorize their parts. If not, I may find another rogue gray hair. I found one last week which may, or may not be related to this open class.

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