I was so pleased with my HS2B cohort last night.
We are basically finished with our current Speaking class textbook. We can't bother ordering a new book, since in December they'll be transitioning to the next year-level (i.e. HS3), which will involve a new book – getting a new book for just a month and a half is impractical. Obviously, I didn't do very well budgeting out the progress in the book, which was meant to last a full year.
"So, what are we going to do?" I asked.
Most classes of 8th graders would desultorily propose something in the vein of "play" or"nothing" - and it would be left up to me to come up with something more academic.
These kids, however, proposed, "Let's have debate class." Most them had me for debate in prior years, but the 8th grade curriculum as currently defined doesn't include much debate.
"Wow, so you guys like debate?" I asked.
"So what should we debate about?" I asked.
Most classes of 8th graders, presented with this choice, would immediately suggest debating something pretty banal: who is the best current pop idol on the k-pop scene, or something in the vein of my absurd debate topics.
One girl, however, proposed, "Let's debate about president Park and the Choi Soon-sil thing." I was, in fact, pretty ignorant about this. I was vaguely aware that some new scandal was exploding around the South Korean President, but I didn't know the details. So we spent some time with them filling me in on what was going on.
Once I understood what was going on, I offered some possible debate propositions.
The one we settled on was: "President Park's recently revealed behavior is impeachable." We had to make a digression while I tried to explain the concept of impeachment, but, to my surprise, they knew what this was – I guess it's something they cover in civics class in their public school.
They're pretty sharp 8th graders – I already knew this. But what I like most about those kids is that they are so interested in learning stuff and thinking about their world. This is what I strive for when I talk about student-driven learning.
Of course, once we'd settled the debate proposition and I assigned some speeches for the next speaking class, they wanted to play. So I let them do that for the last 15 minutes. They're clever - they know if they please me with showing interest in academic topics, they'll get latitude on free time during class, too.
[daily log: walking, 6.5km]