Wednesday, January 16, 2019
English class at the continuation high school. The kiddos were to read a very short excerpt from John Locke's Of the State of Nature.
The students at the continuation high school aren't the strongest students, so the passage was a challenge for them to decipher. (I did read it with them and I tried to break things down so they understood.) Part of the assignment was to circle any words they were unfamiliar with so they could look them up.
I bet you know what's coming. I was expecting it.
"I am familiar with all of those words."
I believed two or three students. But way more than two or three students claimed this. So I warned them.
"If you're going to tell me that you know all the words in the excerpt, I'm going to ask you to prove it."
I had a group of students turning in their work. None of them had defined any words. Considering the paragraphs I had in front of me, I could give each student a different word. Words like: reciprocal, promiscuously, subordination, dominion, promulgated, and absolved.
And so I did. I asked each student to define a different word. And they made good stabs at it (using the context a bit). But they weren't even close.
Eventually they took their papers back. They didn't then look for words. Of course not. But at least they couldn't claim they were done.
(Considering that I heard one student looking up "arbitrary" but pronouncing it "obituary", there were more words that would have tripped them up had I asked for definitions.)