Statistics and crime map…
Apr 16 Published in Remembrance, Reflections by Purple
This is a continuation of my journal from my 2001-2002 school year. Please read the previous posts to give this entry context.
Friday - “That story sucked.”--Amanda
We finished Romeo and Juliet today. The class spontaneously clapped. That happens a lot. It is a big achievement and they know it. In spite of Amanda’s comment.
Sheridan-Another Stereotype Bites the Dust
Sheridan has become more subdued in the class. Part of the reason is probably the new seating arrangement that moved her away from her buddies, Diana and Mindy. She’s in a side row at the back. She has so much to offer that it may have been a mistake to have placed her in a comparatively isolated spot.
On the other hand, she may simply be tired from swim practice. She’s on the school swim team and so far is undefeated in the 100-meter breaststroke.
I also learned in the piece Sheridan wrote on Monday that she has been horseback riding since she was eight years old.
“I can ride English or westurn. However my favorite thing to do horseback is jimcana. Jimcana is the name for basically playing games on horseback. For instance you have to take off one boot and the ref puts it in a pile with the other contestents boots at the other end of the arena. Then you have to race on horseback across the arena hop off find your boot and then race back.”
So much for my assumption that Sheridan was less athletic than her sister just because Sheridan was a better student and more full-bodied.
Shame on me. After all these years of teaching experience, I should stop acting like such a person.
Monday, April 15th - Socratic Seminar
I spent the morning getting a video camera from the department chair, charging the battery pa and studying the manual only to have my sixth period act ridiculously immature, hiding behind books and ducking, as soon as the lens pointed their direction.
The students participated in a Socratic seminar. The topic referred to the anticipation guide at the start of the Romeo and Juliet unit. One of the statements on the guide was: Don’t get mad, get even. Seven students agreed with the statement, nine disagreed and one person was undecided.
We started our seminar by refreshing our memories about our class’s rubric for a good participant.
A good participant:
· asks other’s questions
· listens and respects other’s opinions
· talks, doesn’t scream
· does not interrupt
Next, the students read the following excerpt from Francis Bacon’s “On Revenge.”
FROM ABOUT REVENGE
By Francis Bacon
Revenge is a sort of savage justice. The more people try to take revenge, the more the law should punish them. When a man commits a crime, he breaks the law. But when the injured person takes revenge, the person destroys law itself. In taking revenge, a person does indeed get even with his enemy. But when one refuses to take revenge, he shows that he is better than his enemy. King Solomon, I am sure, said it is glorious for a person to forget an injury.
Whatever is past is gone and can’t be changed. Wise people know they have enough to do in the present and with whatever might happen in the future. They don’t spend their time taking revenge. People who spend their time worrying about past injuries just waste their time. Also, no person hurts another person just to hurt him. Rather, it is done for his profit or his own pleasure or his honor or for some other reason he might have. So why should I be angry with someone for loving himself better than he loves me? Suppose someone hurts me because he is evil. Isn’t that just like a thorn or briar which scratches me because it can’t do anything else?
Revenge is most allowable when there is no specific law to correct any injury. However, one must then be careful that the kind of revenge one takes does not break yet another law.
Some people when they get even want their enemy to know that it will happen. This is a more generous way of acting. Not letting your enemy know you are going to get even is a cowardly thing to do. It is like killing at night from ambush.
What is certain about planning to get even is that one’s own wounds remain open. If one didn’t spend one’s time trying to take revenge, those injuries would heal and be forgotten. Public or state revenges are, for the most part, good—as in the case of the murderers of Julius Caesar. Private revenges are, however, not good. People who take revenge live the life of witches. They cause trouble to others and come to a bad end.
The questions for the inner circle to contemplate were: “What does revenge accomplish in life? What does revenge accomplish in the play? What does revenge accomplish according to Bacon?”
The outer circle was to watch everyone in the discussion and to listen for an interesting statement. They were to be prepared to report what the statement was, who said it, and why they found the statement interesting.
Some of the more vocal students—Lupe, Amanda, Sheridan, Diana and Popo--wanted to be in the inner circle. They were joined by Deborah, Pedro, Evelia and Elizabeth. Raymond volunteered to do the videotaping.
The discussion starts with a chorus of “nothing,” “nothing,” and “nothing,” from Popo, Sheridan and Deborah, but softly, drowned out by the others, Pedro asserts, “Many things.”
“Only negative stuff is accomplished,” Elizabeth puts in and Sheridan seconds.
“Who agrees with revenge?” Popo asks. Lupe takes up the call.
“We’re not taking votes here,” Elizabeth says with a trace of sarcasm.
“I’m just asking,” Popo defends.
“Some revenge is good,” Amanda states, “but
some . . .”
“Like jokes?” Sheridan asks.
There’s still an undercurrent of muttering about how revenge doesn’t accomplish anything.
“You’re not really winning anything if you’re on revenge,” Elizabeth asserts. “You’re only getting negative stuff out of there. You’re hurting people and you’re hurting yourself.”
“But they hurt you first,” Lupe and Pedro retort, almost simultaneously.
“So, you should be the bigger person,” Sheridan surfaces over a rush of responses.
“How about if you’re already big. You don’t get any bigger,” Popo jokes. I’ve always liked Popo’s big dimples, but as I watch the film, I realize how long and articulate his fingers are. His hands are as expressive as his face.
“Life goes on. You should forget about it,” Elizabeth concurs with Sheridan.
“If it’s something like an April Fool’s joke, then you can get back at them, but not if it’s going to hurt them,” Sheridan continues.
“So what it comes down to is whether it’s a really serious matter,” Diana summarizes. “If it’s a really serious matter like you killed my brother, now I’m going to kill you. That’s not going to go anywhere. Now his mom comes and says . . . “ She holds up her hands clasped together as though shooting a gun.
“Revenge doesn’t accomplish anything.”
Conversation peters out.
“What kind of revenge happens in the play?” Sheridan prompts.
“Romeo kills that Tybalt,” Lupe responds.
“The families hate each other,” Amanda adds.
“That’s not revenge,” several students counter.
At this point Raymond indicates the battery is losing power. We take a break to hook up the power pack.
Amanda gets the group back on track by talking about how Mercutio kills Tybalt because Romeo wouldn’t fight him, and then how, in revenge, Romeo kills Tybalt.
“They all die in the end,” Diana throws in.
“Why did he even do that? It’s basically stupid that Romeo kills Tybalt because of his killing Mercutio because he’s not going to bring Mercutio back to life,” Elizabeth says seriously as she waves her pencil back and forth. “Everyone is responsible for their own life and their own path.”
“Still,” Amanda pipes up, “when you think of revenge, that’s the only thing you think of. You don’t think of anything but I have to get that person back. Say when someone does something to you . . . in real life,” Amanda says, addressing Elizabeth.
“Like steals your pen,” interjects Lupe.
“Like calls you a bitch . . . whoo oops,” Amanda rolls her eyes at me, knowing I’m not going to say anything. “Don’t you say something back? Or are you just going to say, ‘Oh, thank you,’ and then walk away?” Amanda gets some of the laughs she’s playing for.
“We don’t ask you to thank them.” Diana tempers Amanda’s pitch toward melodrama.
“It just comes back at you,” Elizabeth responds.
“That’s right,” Sheridan squeals. “I thought you agreed with revenge, Elizabeth,” Sheridan says.
There’s a lot of talking at once. Finally Elizabeth’s voice emerges to agree with Amanda’s point that revenge takes over.
Popo gives Amanda a down low five for making her point.
Amanda returns to her “bitch” example with relish.
“PG 13,” Popo reminds her, and then on a more serious note adds, “Even if you don’t like revenge, if they say something, you’re still going to get ‘em.”
“What goes around, comes around.”
Lupe goes for the absurd in revenge. “You know what you could do? You could kill someone and then kill yourself.”
“That’s suicide,” Popo responds.
“What does that accomplish?” Sheridan asks.
“You don’t get arrested,” Lupe retorts.
“But you could get paroled,” Sheridan says.
“But you’re dead,” Popo declares.
“I mean if you didn’t kill yourself.”
“This is boring,” Popo whines.
“What else happens in the play that is revenge?” Amanda brings the group back to the topic.
“Romeo kills Tybalt,” Diana offers.
“We already said that.”
“Well another example, I think,” Amanda says, “is in the beginning where they start fighting over ohmygosh we’re better because we’re the . . .
“Montagues,” Popo supplies.
“Oh no, we’re better. Here comes my kinsmen.”
“That’s not revenge,” Elizabeth protests.
“Yes it is,” Amanda insists.
A bunch of students talk at once and Diana quickly admonishes them, “Interrupting, interrupting.”
This gets the group quieted. They mistake the quiet for being out of ideas. This, of course, means the topic must be boring.
“According to Bacon?” Diana again tries to get the group on task.
“How can revenge be bad?” Popo inquires.
“According to Bacon?” Diana prompts again.
This leads to some silliness about killing the pig and the pig’s revenge, but eventually Diana is able to regain the reins and say, “According to Bacon revenge doesn’t solve anything.”
After some ineffectual murmurs, Diana continues, “She says,” (Oops, I should have informed them that Francis with an i is a guy’s name, “like . . . uhm . . . .” She taps her pencil nervously, or maybe like a gavel to call this immature group to order. “If someone breaks the law and robs your store or shoots you in the arm, you don’t die, but are still alive, and then you go and you want to get revenge on them, then you’re breaking the law. It’s a two-way thing. It’s double trouble.”
“So, instead of like killing the guy, why don’t you just call the police and get him to jail?” Sheridan waves her hands as though that clears the slate, takes care of everything.
“No,” Evelia protests. “What if he gets out?”
“That’s like a little thing,” Lupe interjects.
“Huh?” Sheridan asks. “What do you mean?”
“What if someone raped your daughter?”
This draws lots of response.
“Death to the whole family,” Lupe sums up.
Popo introduces the idea of what if the original crime were an accident, for example, if he intended to shoot one person, but shot another instead. Would the person seek revenge?
“She’s dead already,” Elizabeth says. “You shot her.”
“What if it was in the toe?” Popo persists.
“She’d try to get revenge on you,” Elizabeth admits.
“See,” Popo declares. “You think revenge is good.”
“You never know what’s going to come over you with revenge,” Amanda states.
Elizabeth does know. “Rage.”
Diana indicates she wants to speak. The group respects her because she operates with respect. “Revenge can be taken like . . . it depends on how you see revenge. If you see revenge like Lupe does, somebody rapes your daughter and you take them to court for raping your daughter, well you’re not really hurting them . . . .”
Sheridan asks to interject. “If you rape someone, there’s Megan’s Law. They’ll tell everyone in the whole neighborhood. Everybody has to know you are a rapist. Then your life is ruined. You can’t get a job. You can’t buy a house.”
“But it’s good if they send a guy to jail for raping somebody,” Lupe says, “cause then in jail . . . . She trails off knowingly.
“Don’t drop the soap,” Popo says.
There’s a pause.
“So if they rape your daughter, are you going to go rape them?” Popo asks.
“Revenge doesn’t necessarily mean doing the same thing to that person,” Diana states reasonably.
A bunch of students talk at once.
“We got off the subject,” Diana says.
“Let’s go back to the first question,” Amanda suggests. “What does revenge accomplish?”
“It makes you feel good,” Lupe tosses in.
“For other people, like my sister,” Elizabeth nearly whispers, “there was this guy that she liked, so what she did, out of revenge, was she cut up this girl’s costume for the play.”
Elizabeth’s sister’s revenge on this girl, who kissed the guy she liked, was convoluted and involved sending a letter to the girl’s parents.
“Your sister is psycho!” Lupe exclaims.
“Yeah,” Elizabeth smilingly agrees. But then she becomes serious. “From there on, I consider that bad. That was dumb.”
As she’s so often done during this session, Diana ties things together and keeps the group on track. “It didn’t accomplish anything.”
Elizabeth’s sister is not even in the area to watch the girl suffer or to see the girl get in trouble with her parents. “So why did she even do it?” Elizabeth ponders with the classic turned up palms.
“Because that other chick kissed her boyfriend,” Amanda answers.
Talking erupts. Sheridan admonishes the group for interrupting Diana, but Diana apologizes, “I interrupted. I’m sorry.” She continues, “In the play revenge does kind of accomplish something, because everybody dies. That’s an accomplishment, whether it’s good or bad. And the families are in peace now. So it accomplished something.”
The discussion still lacks depth, but how far we’ve come from the shouting match at the beginning of the year.