Thursday, September 09, 2004


I found out today that the tall girl has been suspended, which is why she hasn't been to my room now for two days. During lunch today people in the lounge were talking about students hallwalking and banging on the doors, harassing teachers, commandeering classes, etc., (it happens to all of us), and I described the countenance and antics of this girl whose name I still do not know, and everyone knew her, though not her name. That's when I found out she was suspended. At the risk of being laughed out of this school I volunteered the idea that I think she wants to be in my class and the lady with the yardstick who has football players practically crying on their knees for her mercy said she thinks I might be right. I was prepared for a berating but got a surprising acknowledgement. Part of me wants to talk with the administration, find out the tall girl's name, and have her moved into one of my classes. A big part of me. Possibly a leading part of me.
We read Ben Franklin's 13 efforts toward moral perfection in two of my classes today. At first we all thought we didn't care about striving for that, but as the discussion continued it came out that perhaps we do, if in no other way than that we wish to do some good in the world. It was such a discussion. I know that I, for one, left there thinking. Tomorrow, while I have private conferences with each of my students (I love the 90 minute classes in the block schedule), the other people are going to be making collages (who doesn't love crayolas scissors and glue?), gluing pictures that make reference to what they think moral perfection looks like onto sheets of legal size typing paper. One of my students, S, said he was going to cut out nothing but pictures of beautiful women. I said that's cool, but that part two of the assignment will be to explain, via the essay, the collage they made, bearing in mind Franklin's ideas about moral perfection. I would love it if S could pull his idea about the beautiful women off. I'm going to encourage him in that. His idea has heat and he means it. I want him to give it a shot. I hope he'll believe me.
In my third class we read Patrick Henry's speech that ends with "Give me liberty or give me death." I asked the class if they would trade their freedom for death and everyone said no. Conversation ensued about what freedom is, always a word I think Americans throw around recklessly, and eventually the conversation got to L saying, "you know niggers still go to the back of the bus."
It hurts to use that word. But it's what she said.

Disposed of: the last few slices of two loaves of bread that I saved in my freezer for an emergency. The emergency has arrived.

the word today was "salute"

Melanie Anne Plesh


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The tall girl interests me, too. It's sad no one knew her name. If anyone can get her to shed her armor, it will be you, and you are so brave to try because you may fail, but that's cool. As long as she knows you tried, you have given her something she didn't have. I love the collage idea, remember it as something we were always going to do in group and never did. Having the "N" word in my novel, broke my heart, but it was there in memory, and it can't be erased any more than the meaning of it can. They all live with that knowledge. My daughter is teaching 2 year olds, and they're all African Americans, and she loves being there just like you. Who'd of thought all those years ago when you two met that you'd both be struggling to help all those beautiful children. Ain't life something? We need you to trek up to D.C. to refresh the U.S. Congress on Patrick Henry's and Ben Franklin's writings, which I thought we were all about at one time. The word freedom has become nothing more than a political volleyball being batted from one side to the other.

10:53 PM  

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