Saturday, November 08, 2008

See one, do one, sit around and do nothing

Thursday I was on the field trip for the Maltese Falcon thing so I had a sub. The sub was okay, laid back like I like because when the sub is too strict he yells at my kids and it puts me in a bind when I get back. So this sub was okay. I saw him in the morning and gave him some last minute instructions, none of which he remembered because if it wasn't written on the sheet he didn't say it.

Now normally I like subs to just follow my instructions and not go too wild with their own ideas unless they're an expert on the subject at hand. I had a shop teacher once sub for me and he decided to explain the meaning behind a Shakespeare sonnet. He decided "My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun" is a poem about a woman Shakespeare was having an affair with. One day a sub gave them the assignment, told them to do it if they felt like it, then turned on the NCAA tournament and broke my stool.

But this was a different situation. This guy's in film school. I talked to Sub Thursday morning and told him they were watching Chinatown and he needed to finish it with them. And I asked him how well he knew Chinatown and he said "Oh yeah I'm in film school. A lot of my friends rave about that movie."

So yesterday I got to class and asked all the kids what they thought of the movie and I got blank stares. I'm sure he showed the movie, I'm not so sure he did anything else. I get the impression that they were paying very little attention and he didn't explain anything. Then they were supposed to answer a heaping pile of questions about the film and film technique and most of them were confused.

So let me ask you this. If you had the chance to teach Chinatown and help a bunch of students answer film analysis questions, how would you react? Here's an opportunity to share what you're learning in school, ideally your greatest passion, with a group of well-behaved teenagers.

Instead, most of my kids didn't even understand what happened at the end, much less discuss the significance of it. I get the impression he just sat at the computer and played sudoku or something.

So I ended up showing the ending again and discussing it myself. Not a problem for me, but still kind of disappointing that he didn't offer them another perspective. I think maybe this guy shouldn't be in film school.


  1. I had a sub last week. Friday and Monday. I was in Vegas, walking for Obama.
    He won, you know.
    I met him, you know.
    We shook hands and talked, you know.

    I digress.

    We left on Friday monring. I was at school until midnight Thursday, finishing grades and putting sub instructions in two folders marked 'Friday' and 'Monday'. Seating charts, lesson plans, very clear shit, y'know?
    This sub
    -ignored my lesson plan when it required that she hand out papers. On Friday, when the kids were allowed to watch 'Friends'? She handled that okay.
    -took roll one day, passed around a sign-in sheet the other day.

    I knew there was some bullshit going on when I called my neighbot and he said, "Your sub is from old country, like Borat!" Well, he's a joker bit he doesn't lie. I called my room:
    Me: So, how are things?
    Her: Everything good.
    Me: Oh, okay...What are the kids doing?
    Her: Are watching TV. Is good.
    ("Are watching TV. Is good"? WTF? How did Borat's sister get a sub license?)
    Me: Great,, no problems with sixth.
    Her: No! Everything good. No problem.

    So, I get back, curious. I find that Friday's sub folder wasn't even opened. She let them sit and talk and text.
    Then, Ms. B came by for a coke and said, oh, by the way, your door was unlocked while you were gone.

    This is when having worked with Brits helps: you know all the extra swear words, all the really special, physically impossible terms.
    So, I guess Number One Prostitute In All Of Kazakhstan is never coming back to my room- but Expo is Friday. Dying to know what kind of sub I'll get.

  2. Subs. Why do so many horribly lazy people become subs?

    I'll see you at Expo.

  3. Maybe he was one of those film school douches who think they're too important for anything except sudoku.

  4. I find it pretty sad that some people get it into their heads that they want to be film students and make movies, but have hardly a clue of what came before them. It's like an artist who never heard of the Renaissance, or a rock musician who never heard of B.B. King until he "opened" a venue/lounge (never mind knowing who "Lucille" is).

    Subs - the sad thing is that, in my experience, most are just a hair's-breadth more useful than a manikin. The best thing you can do is give them one simple instruction - like "don't let them burn the place down" - and leave the rest to chance, knowing the kids will learn nothing in his/her presence that resembles your lesson plan. My school experience was such that, with so many subs who did little to nothing that affected my grade, eventually all my fellow students started pretty much ignoring them, or saw them as a sign that they could cut class without repercussions.

    In high school, I was the one of about three or four white kids in a school of over 3,000, and I looked mature for my age (my hair was already thinning). When I walked into a room, most students thought I was the sub and started grabbing their gear and leaving.

  5. Anonymous11:53 PM

    Your sub's just waiting for that magical moment where he signs with an all-powerful CAA agent, signs a first-look deal with a major studio, and makes millions without having to do anything.

  6. Pisser. CHINATOWN isn't just a great movie with all kinds of things that would be fun to discuss - and dark as hell - it is also the story of Los Angeles, and Mulholland Drive is named after the character the villain is modeled after. This story is probably part of their lives, whether they know it or not.

    - Bill

  7. He's probably going to be among the 50% of film school students that drop out. Not enough motivation and/or enthusiasm apparently.


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