Today was, on the whole, a good day.
We had the first proper presentations of an invention project I had my kids do in class. Not as brilliant as Joel’s weekly invention exchanges on Mystery Science Theatre 3000, but since the kids were learning about the Industrial Revolution I thought it might be a good idea to have them research proper inventions like the telegraph, rockets, and even Segways. (We learned what “ironic” meant when one presentation erroneously stated that the inventor of the Segway died by falling off of his and down a cliff. Tomorrow we get to learn what a “retraction” is.) One student built a homemade telegraph machine that actually worked. I’ll get a picture of it for later, because it’s incredible.
While I wanted the kids to learn about inventions, the project was really assigned to gauge their adeptness at technology, research skills, and public speaking. And it’s interesting to see what they know and what they don’t know. Now that tablet computers and smartphones are (increasingly) the only digital device kids use, their knowledge of how to run desktop PCs and software like Word and Power Point is really starting to decline. Which may not be a bad thing. Do I really want to train kids to just give presentations? I’m not trying to train a generation of market analysts, you know.
After the end of a long day I got to spend a couple of hours catching up with a former student from my last class. He’s a seventh grader now, and we hadn’t had an opportunity to tell stories and crack jokes in a long while. He’s a great kid, and one of those students I’ll probably keep in touch with for a long time. Now that he’s older he’s into Doctor Who and Arrested Development, so it was a mad quote-a-thon for a while. (“There are dozens of us!!! DOZENS!!!!!!!!!”) Right now he’s obsessed with the Freemason mythology that has surrounded American history for a while. This is one cool kid.
He’s admittedly not much of an artist, so he enlisted his sister (in my class this year) to do some drawings for him.
Before I close, I should really just embed this Invention Exchange and let others enjoy it. I’m so thankful for YouTube’s treasure trove of MST3K-related videos.
Is it wrong that I credit Joel Hodgson as one of my main influences, as far as teaching goes? That might explain my tendency to (gently) mock and (slightly) distrust most things I come across.
What do you think, sirs?