Saturday, April 16, 2005

The Horror
It's been a month or so since I got my two new classes, and they're going fine so far.

One of the classes was previously taught by an over-achieving super-teacher, the type of woman who says things like, "I just wish the periods were longer, we were getting so much done!" and who finds "classroom management issues" to be simply incomprehensible. Her class is like Switzerland. She has molded them into a rigid, well-oiled machine, making my life that much easier for the forty-five minutes a day that is 5th period. Still, I secretly despise her.

The other class was taught by the infamous Ms. Wayne, and although she's just as anal as Ms. Perfect, she's not nearly as effective, and these kids hadn't done jack-shit all semester beyond advancing to the latter stages of a high-stakes, emotionally charged, in-class dominoes tournament. Both groups seem to appreciate my own comparatively laid back, "Yo, Mista Babylon been smokin'?" style.

I started off both classes reading an abridged version of "The Cask of Amontillado," the only halfway interesting story in their book. Somehow, in the midst of in-class readings and comprehension questions, in a fit of improvisation necessitated by failed lesson-planning, I decided to begin what will undoubtedly be an egregiously incomplete study of genre, beginning, obviously, with Horror. I laid out five, wholly self-proclaimed, "Qualities of Horror" - Suspense, Surprise, Violence, Death, and Scary Imagery (which started out as "Gore." "Villains/Bad Guys" also made an appearance on the list in the early stages of theory development.) I had the kids discuss how Poe utilized these qualities, and then, brilliantly, decided the students should write their own Horror stories.

For a week I had the students write a paragraph a day as homework, I instructed them to try to incorporate my "Qualities of Horror", but wasn't much of a stickler about it, and I told them again and again, "make it scary." They did not disappoint.

Many of the stories, in a sort of urbane, post-modern take on the "Alien vs. Predator" concept, blended icons of cinematic scream and splatter with fictionalized versions of characters from the kids' daily lives. "Chucky vs. Freddy." "Mr. Babylon vs. Jason." "Mr. Babylon vs. Chucky." I am happy to report that despite numerous gunshot wounds, stabbings, eviscerations and even one decapitation, I (or my fictional counterpart) emerged victorious in almost every one of these bloody sagas.

The exception to this string of triumphs came from the pen of Juan, a budding erotica scribe, who delivered another classic in "Sex on the Bathroom," a somewhat misleadingly titled epic (seven pages!) in which he got me drunk on "Blue Label" and buried me alive because I had stolen his girlfriend, Jenna Jameson.

A number of girls wrote startlingly realistic tales of domestic abuse, infidelity, and jilted lovers' revenge, displaying a familiarity with and firm grasp of both the "psychological thriller" drama and the ins and outs of unhealthy sexual relationships.

One girl either wrote a brilliant character description and deep psychological probe of a mother murdering sociopath, or she’s about to actually commit matricide. This story was so vivid and frightening, ("I look down at the blood in the nife and laugh, ja ja, ja, she can't never tell me to clean my room again...") that i would have reported her to social services, if she hadn't followed my assignment so perfectly. I gave her an A+ and commented, "Good job, this is really, really scary!"


On Tuesday, the day after I gave the first drafts back, a fifteen year old student from a nearby high-school was murdered at the train station on his way to school. In an apparent dispute between two Dominican gangs, Trinitarios and DDP, he and two friends were jumped and attacked with machetes. His friends escaped, wounded but alive. He died of stab wounds to the head and back. The suspects are rumored to be Shitty students.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com