I’ve mentioned before that, in an effort to keep kids writing and thinking, I’ll often have them request things of me (change of grade for example) in writing. Obviously, logical reasoning and compelling details are more effective. In short, if you’re a kid that’s going to play the percentages–you’re going to come with some good writing and thinking.
Today a student thought spit wads through a hollow pen casing was the way to go. I thought a detention was an appropriate response. But first (especially since we’re in the middle of a unit on persuasion) I told the kid to write me at least one paragraph explaining why he did not deserve a detention.
By the end of the hour.
Which meant he had 5 minutes.
Here’s what he came back with:
Dear Mr. Wondra,
I shouldn’t get a detention because it doesn’t hurt anybody to get shot by a spit wad when they are doing it to you and other people. It’s just like football. If someone tackles your teammate you either try, or you do tackle the person who tackled you. It’s not a big deal because if you do it to someone then you should expect that you will get shot back.
Obviously, there are numerous problems with his logic here–not the least being he doesn’t know how to play football. But as an English teacher, I had to appreciate the attempt at metaphor.
I’ve got a unit on logic coming up next semester. I’ll let you know if we make any progress.