Lessons in politics

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We finished watching Twilight on Friday after school. About twelve girls and three boys showed up to see the end of Edward and Bella’s opening courtship. Most of them were my students, but I picked up a few strays. I had stopped at Costco the night before to get pretzels and popcorn. Students brought pop, flaming Cheetos and chili-flavored, mango lollipops. I added Oreos and Jolly Ranchers. We had a party. To the best of my knowledge, there’s no rule against parties after school.

My challenge was nonetheless staying under the radar. I explained to students who wanted to be out in the halls, and students who were erupting in those special, high-pitched screams that only middle school girls seem able to produce, why we needed to be quiet. We were not yet against the rules. We did not want to inspire the administration to create a new rule.

Upon reflection, I wonder what lesson I was subtly teaching. Every moment when a teacher explains how the world works has the potential to affect a student’s worldview. Most of the girls want to start New Moon after school soon, so they were listening. I had my teachable moment and I used it to teach … what lesson? Push the limits quietly? Watch out for authority figures?

All it takes is one word to shut down the movies, though, so I can’t say I made a mistake in my approach. I’m not sure why the administration would shut down afterschool movie viewing, but then I don’t understand why students can’t eat anything except food specifically provided by the cafeteria (most of which is inedible) during the school day. I’m not sure why I can’t put pictures of my pets in my PowerPoint, as demanded by my Assistant Principal, for fear I will distract students. If pictures of dogs are too much for their frail little minds at this stage, we might as well shut the school doors now. Their chances of handling the real world are next to nil when one wheaten terrier drags them over the edge of the learning cliff.

In a couple of weeks, we will quietly stage New Moon on another Friday afternoon. If no one talks to me on Monday, that is.