With the threat of bad weather, the possibility of another few days out of school, and whatever had happened in Ms. X and Mr. Y’s classes this morning, it was very hard for N and B in the intermediate class to focus on what we were doing at the beginning of our time together. We were classifying Latin verbs by their coniugatiō families, then transforming them into the various personae and numeri we discovered back in Latin I … and if N had been paying attention, she would have remembered this is an area where she often struggles, an area that will be increasingly important as we start working on our stories or videos for Minor Assessment #2. But N hates paying attention. She’s blazingly intelligent, and paying attention was never necessary Back In The Day, back at Those Other Schools where Ms. X and Mr. Y were in awe of her intelligence and her verbal facility. “Why are you yelling at me?” she’ll ask, with a look of sincere puzzlement on her face. “Other people aren’t doing the assignment!”
I guess that worked on Ms. X and Mr. Y, and sometimes B and U find it humorous … for a minute or two. I do, too … for a minute or two. And sometimes N remembers that, unlike Ms. X and Mr. Y, Mr. S doesn’t seem to be overwhelmed by her verbal facility or her impressive-sounding arguments. But sometimes N forgets, because it’s hard for N to take control of her impulses, and it’s hard for her to say no to herself when something comes to mind.
Of course, taking control of yourself is hard for everybody; it’s the work of a lifetime, and you’re not going to be perfect when you’re a teenager. But factory-model schools make it even harder. After all, in Ms. X and Mr. Y’s class, there’s always somebody else around to take control and say no. “Can I go to the bathroom?” No! Bellows Mr. Y, who’s stressed and frantic about so much to cover and Powers That Be and all. No, sugar, whispers Ms. X, because you might get in trouble … or you might get me in trouble. “Can I …? Should I …?” Ms. X and Mr. Y, in a desperate quest for control of their “bad, lazy students,” dispense a yes or a no … and what then?