Taming the beasties…

The AC went out in my classroom (TV studio) yesterday. Temperatures were heading for the high 90’s and I knew teaching would be impossible by the end of the day. The first English class went okay. Second class was listless…we were reading “The Possibility of Evil” and half the heads were down on desks. Fortunately I’d made arrangements to move them to the library to work on essays about half way through the period. Broadcasting definitely had to move – to a vacant classroom where my lesson plan consisted of push the play button on my computer to play a DVD.

Kids – even high school students – love a change of pace. My rambuncious crew settled in noisily, only glancing at the movie as it began. Then, strangely, they got quieter and quieter until there were only a few whispers in the back of the room. EVERYONE was watching the video intently. And this wasn’t their choice of fare – it was one of my current favorites: Second Hand Lion. There was enough shooting and action to get their attention…and then the plot and characters captivated them. I stopped the video a few minutes before the bell rang at a critical point in the plot – a cliffhanger. They resumed watching today with a sub (I had to run my daughter in for a doctor’s appointment). But I know they will watch to the end, enjoy the movie, and perhaps learn something.

The lesson? Too often we have a comfort zone…we fall into a rut and think this is the way life should be. My kids’ rut is too much junk music, movies, and games. My solution is to pull them out of the rut that life has surrounded them with and let them see other possibilities – not just in movies, but in music and how creative they can get with video. My two most creative teams are the one with seniors who are focused and a group of rowdies who’ve discovered how much fun it is to use music and sound FX to create visual and audio discord. My three advanced students are working with a local police department on a National Night Out video. The student who helped shoot the video did a ride-along with a bomb squad member…he was treated as a pro and will remember this for the rest of his life…a defining moment…a step into another world.

Sometimes we think we are predestined to a certain type of life…the life our parents lived and the life we know. Photography and then broadcast news lifted me out of one of those boxed in lives…I’ve seen and done more than I could ever have imagined as a high school student. Video, like literature, exposes the audience to other lives and other possibilities…it opens up the world as something real and reachable rather than a distant fantasy. My hope is not that my students all become career videographers or videojournalists…but that they learn they can learn anything and do anything and be anything they want to.

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