Oh boy, am I glad that Thursday is a day with words because I've got quite a few of them milling about in my head, begging to travel down to my hands and the keyboard where they can come to life! Pardon what, I feel certain, will become a rather disjointed post.

Student X Update
Tuesday marked my class' first departure away from censorship in textbooks and reading materials used in classrooms and movement to censorship in other areas of American life. We
began with the censorship of images and information related to the war on Iraq. This lesson includes three online readings, two of which include graphic images from the war. I had prepared a handout of war photographs from the American Civil War, WW's I and II, the Vietnam War, the Iraq War juxtaposed against Goya's 3rd of May 1808. Our discussion would examine why graphic depictions of war are celebrated when oil on canvas is the medium but censored when the medium is a photograph.

I've never felt the need to practice self-censorship in my classroom until Student X's behavior last week. Since Student X had expressed "disgust" about a violent scene in the book at the center of the conflict, I worried that showing graphic images of the violent results of war might be just enough to send an emotionally unstable individual over the edge. I decided that it would be best to start the class with a disclaimer that explained the discussion and the use of the images along with an offer to excuse anyone who would be uncomfortable.

When I walked into the classroom, Student X's usual spot in the front row was empty. Although Student X is, as I mentioned in the first post, always late for class, on Tuesday, the student had arrived early and taken a seat at the very back of the classroom, positioned in such a way as to be flanked on either side by classmates and hiding behind another one. In a class of only 14 students, such a drastic seat change doesn't go unnoticed and since Student X has always been a regular participant in discussions, the move brought a palpable feeling of uncertainty to the classroom. I went ahead with the disclaimer and made the offer, once again, for anyone to leave when I put the class into groups to work with the images. Nobody left, and we made it through the discussion without a single peep from Student X. We'll see what happens today when we examine censorship in music. . .

Headaches Update
Whether the heat or the stress from the Student X situation is the cause, I don't know, but the past three days have been made much worse by headaches. The constant feeling that my eyeballs are ready to pop out of my head from the pressure inside it has made sleeping, already a big problem for me, nearly impossible. Ibuprofen, my pain med of choice, can do only so much and with headaches coming fast and furious, I quickly reached the daily limit. Yesterday started out quite promising; because I had had only one headache in the night, I awoke feeling refreshed. Pshaw, that didn't last too long! Shortly after 11 am, another one struck with pain so bad that I had to lie down in order to breathe comfortably. With a much cooler temperature yesterday and a fair amount of sleep last night without a headache, I'm beginning to think that the hot weather is the culprit. If that's the case, summer ought to be most pleasant -- not!
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3 Responses
  1. Anonymous Says:

    Here's hoping X will be on his best behavior the remainder of the semester!!

    Hope the cooler weather helps the headaches. Have you noticed the weather changes affecting the frequency of headaches? Maybe it's the drastic changes in temperature rather than the hot temps?

  2. Carleen Says:

    Student X showed up 15 minutes late today, as the class and I were well into a discussion of censorship in music and the PMRC (Tipper Gore's group responsible for the warning labels on CDs). I was reading the lyrics of a rap song with explicit language written in response to the PMRC's tactics when Student X strolled in. Because I hadn't given the disclaimer at the start of class when I saw that Student X wasn't there, I couldn't very well give it after the fact and had to stop reading. This will not be a fun two weeks!

    As for the headaches, the only change I've felt have been connected to the raised temperature. It's chilly and overcast today, and not a single headache yet. Strange!

  3. Anonymous Says:

    How about typing up a quick disclaimer and having all students sign it at the next class meeting? Then collect them to keep on file. That should cover the rest of the course topics. And give a quick explanation that K12 schools do this for various reasons (mostly to do with computer use) and it's just a good idea for them to "experience" this for themselves.

    Or better yet - make it a learning experience and have them each write their own, then discuss in groups and each group choose the best one, then have the class vote on the best one from each group, and then have them all sign the one they chose.

    Just a thought :-)

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