A Good Lesson: Fake It

According to Paul Tough's new book How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character, the most important thing that kids learn in school is not knowledge, but how to improve character traits such as resilience, the ability to delay gratification, and diligence . . . and so the most important lesson I've taught my students is probably not one related to essay writing . . . my best guess is that the most valuable thing they will take away from my class is a policy I instituted last year, a protocol on how to approach me after being absent from my class; you may not come up to me before class and ask, "What did I miss?" because I won't remember, and even worse, you can't say, "Did I miss anything?"because then I'll make you read this wonderfully sarcastic poem . . . so what you must do is provide one piece of information about the lesson you missed, which you must acquire from a classmate, so that you can make a statement like this: "Dearest teacher, I know we read an essay about bee-keeping yesterday, and I heard that we had a quiz, so I was wondering what I should do to make this up?" and though I know the process is complete baloney, and that I am forcing the student to pretend they care about something they don't care about, I think this is an important skill to have: the ability to pretend you that care, and I am always surprised at how adept they are at it, how quickly they adapted to my demand . . . in fact, sometimes they are so convincing with their facts and queries that they actually fool me, and I truly believe that they care about what they missed.


zman said...

I leave comments here precisely so that I can hone that skill.

Whitney said...

I love the fact that Dave forgets that he told them to fake it. Such a great short term memory deficit.

Reminds me of a story from 10-12 years ago. I was watching the Comedy channel with the wife, there was something about Andy Kaufman or the gullibility of audiences. Randomly I suggested to her that we each tell the other one whopper a day, one big fat lie that pushes the limits of believability. And if the other person falls for it, at the end of the day, you tell them.

About an hour later, as we continued to watch the same channel, there was a Penn & Teller segment. She then remarked that she had seen a Penn & Teller show in Boston when she was there on a trip with her mom, and that some of the content was a little racy for her Southern genteel mom, but that the magic was cool, and hers was a semi-elaborate story. I was enthralled, having never heard this story, and I was kind of bummed that I hadn't seen them, and I said more than once, "What are the chances that you would have seen them and I didn't?" and I kept asking about the details of the show, and never once did I realize she was completely making it up on the spot. A couple of hours later, she just blurted, "So I never really saw Penn & Teller, you know," and I was stunned and bewildered and bummed out about the whole thing, and so I immediately cancelled this idea about telling daily juicy whoppers to each other, and the worst part is, I never even got to make one up myself.

The lesson, as always, is that I am an idiot.

zman said...

A whopper she wanted, my tubesteak she got.

Dave said...

you can't play games like this with girls -- they always win. but, the next time i see you, i will tell a lie . . . and you'll feel really smart, because you'll figure it out in ten seconds.

Clarence said...

...if that lie is "Hey, you look good."

A New Sentence Every Day, Hand Crafted from the Finest Corinthian Leather.