Since you told Mark that apparently he can’t just write about astronomy, I’ll continue to try and do these journals as previous instructed. As you probably heard, one of the sophomores had our first meltdown case on Thursday. We were in the working half of math class, and he apparently reached a problem that he couldn’t solve. Since I remember him always being good at math it isn’t surprising he was annoyed, but I don’t know what single problem could make him that irritated. More likely it was a combination of other things happening in his life got to him and eventually he just exploded. It doesn’t help when you’re trying to answer hard questions while the teacher is talking with another student in the background. I know a major part of the working period is for teachers to answer questions from students having problems, but it still disrupts our concentration for some of us. In any event, the teacher got his therapist and they took him to the safe room and he came back a few minutes later after he had calmed down. You’ve been working here long enough to know that this probably isn’t going to be the last meltdown of the semester.
I’ve had two meltdowns at school in my life. The first was in second grade when a third grader was making fun of me, or at least I thought he was making fun of me, during lunch. I lost control and started screaming and threw my lunch tray at him. Then I went to the garbage container and tried to throw that at him too, but I couldn’t lift it. Eventually I was taken to the safe room, and then had to go to the principal’s office in order to answer for throwing the tray. Both the third grader and I got a talking too and warnings, but no punishments were handed out.
The second meltdown was in fifth grade. It was at the end of the day in class right after gym. I was already tired from working all day before gym, and then while running laps I tripped and fell. My knee was badly scraped so I had to go to the nurses’ office. So I wasn’t in a good mood before returning to class and sitting (and mostly daydreaming) through the day’s final lecture section. Then during the last working section I overheard some kids making comments about my fall, and I completely lost it. I started crying uncontrollably and, like clockwork, it was off to the safe room where I stayed until the end of the day. Going to school the next day was embarrassing, but at least I didn’t scream or throw things that time. Luckily, I haven’t had a meltdown at school since. Quite a few of the kids here have never had a meltdown during class, but enough of us have have that I’m glad that we have protocols in place to make sure they go as well as can be expected.
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Mark made a comment a lunch about this project, saying that he’d just written about the moons of Jupiter in the last journal entry. I told him I didn’t think that’s what we were supposed to be doing and to ask you if it was alright. If it is, then I’ll spend the entry after this writing about Napoleon’s Campaign in Egypt, something much more interesting than my life. But I’ll wait for your response to him before I change the subject in my journal.
I sit with Mark and Katrina during lunch. I’ve been friends with Mark since elementary school and Kat’s sat with us since 8h grade. Mark’s parents were both born before the scare of 1975, although of course both used everyone’s favorite pain reliever at the time. The fact that neither of his parents are like us means they and Mark have trouble connecting to each other. But it isn’t as bad as it is with his brother in the lower elementary school. As difficult it is for my father to relate to me sometimes, I can’t begin to imaging how Mark’s parents relate to a son who is only sometimes verbal and occasionally violent. Not that he’s always a huge problem, most of the time he is perfectly nice if oblivious to the outside world. But both parents having to do many basic functions for him, while taking care of Mark and holding down jobs, seems incredible. Luckily, when he’s not studying astronomy Mark can look after himself pretty well, which takes a lot of the burden off. He’s even looking into getting a job once he turns 16 in a few months. Hopefully it won’t affect his grades much, but they’ve always been pretty high so he can probably handle it. Unlike me, he never seems to need to wind down after being held in this building for six hours.
Kat used to be obsessed with history like I was. Well, we both still enjoy learning about it on our own, but there isn’t the same obsessive desire as before. Unfortunately, she has had an obsession with Daniel ever since he did something nice for her when they were twelve. She is too anxious around him to even talk to him, and she doesn’t even have any classes with him after he was moved up a grade, not even Driver’s Ed. But even a glance at him from across the lunchroom can make her feel bliss. She doesn’t stalk him; in fact she’s never seen him outside of the school. She can’t even get near him without her limbs shaking, much less talk to him. But still the obsession persists. I can’t tell whether or not her obsession wastes more of her time and energy than any of the rest of ours, but even I can tell that she is much more sullen than when she started sitting with us two years ago. We have the same school therapist, and she’s was a bit helpful during my adjusting to high school last year. I just hope she can help Kat.
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I had a rather uneventful week, as usual. But not only do I have to write about it here, our history teacher asks us about our weekends too. I’m not sure what the point is, although she probably thinks that it helps provide a more comfortable atmosphere for people who otherwise wouldn’t want to learn about history. As someone who was obsessed with history for years as a child, it is those kinds of things which made me less interested in the subject because I associate it with mindless time wasting. Not only that, it would take up some of her precious teaching time if she didn’t then reduce the working section to make up for it. I’d go to the principal about it, but since she’s been teaching here longer than I’ve been alive I doubt it would do any good. So we had a bunch of kids who were completely nervous about trying to describe what they did during the weekend instead of learning their subject. Well, except for one guy, the new one. He seemed perfectly natural talking about his life. Now, for example, if she’d have asked Mark about astronomy, she wouldn’t have been able to shut him up for the entire period. But it just seems like a thing we used to do in our old social skills classes than something that belongs in a high school history course. At least she doesn’t talk to most of us as if we were five like my math teacher.
It reminds me of my parents. My father was born in 1972, so obviously that was before the Analgesic Scare of 1975, but my mother was born in 1977 and my grandmother has chronic headaches. So I’ve had to live with many of the many differences between the people born with the effects from the scare as opposed to the rest of the world. They married and had me pretty quickly after they met, so they may not have been fully prepared to deal with their differences. For example, even up until a few years ago my father would keep asking my mother how her day went, just like our history teacher asked us about our weekends. And her response was usually the same as we gave in the class. Eventually, he broke the habit and stopped asking either of us that question, or using other forms of small talk. My mother also needs more time alone than my father understands, and even now they occasionally get into arguments because he thinks he did something wrong and she’s trying to explain that she just needs some time to herself. And I’m sure my father finds it frustrating that his wife and son don’t understand how he’s feeling just by looking at his face. But he can understand us much of the time, which is important for when we don’t want express to him how we are doing in words. Don’t think that they are an unhappy couple, since most of the time they’re perfectly fine. However, even when you’ve been married for over a decade and a half it takes a lot to break habits that you’ve had forced on you for the rest of your life. So I guess I should stop expecting other people to break their long-lived values and habits even though they don’t fit with the values and habits that I’ve grown up with.
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I don’t understand how I’m going to be able to write five hundred words about myself every week for the entire school year, especially when I don’t think my life is interesting enough to fill a short summary every month. For example, in this entry I wish I could write something about how I spent a traditional Labor Day on one last trip with my family to the beach, but I spent the day at home mostly wasting time on the internet. It took me most of today’s working section to even come up with the first sentence of this paragraph. Also, since you won’t collect these until the end of the year I have no idea whether or not I’m doing them correctly or not. It’s like in math class when they give you problems to solve to get practice, but they don’t give you the answers so you can check to see whether or not you’ve been solving them correctly. You could be doing dozens of problems the wrong way, and you won’t find out until you get the answers wrong on the next test.
However, I understand that sophomore year English is about writing. It will hopefully be more productive than freshman year, where we spent all of our time reading books written by people born before 1975 and are based on their childhoods. But the world is very different now than it was when they were children, and honestly I’m not sure if other suburban teenagers today can really relate to a story of someone from sixty years ago. There are a lot less kids for one thing, and nearly a fifth weren’t in lower-level schools with limited future opportunities. Most people acted much differently than kids do today, and not just due to advances in technology. Even with advancing technology I think the next generation might see more of themselves in the characters of those books and get more out of them. Teaching young adult literature to young adults makes sense, but those books were about as relevant to the lives of my classmates and me as a book about the life of 17th century nobility.
This wouldn’t have been a problem if they were interesting, but the authors seemed to think that just having characters set at the same age as the audience is enough and didn’t bother to write an interesting story. If the story is interesting, solid, and provides emotional connection, it shouldn’t matter the age or background of the person reading it. Fantasy novels, science fiction shows, and historical movies all take place in eras or worlds that are outside our experiences but still have followings despite that because of the other things they offer.
I know you’ve been teaching this class for a long time, so these complaints probably aren’t new to you and your methods might make sense as we go through the year. However, your instructions weren’t very clear on what exactly we should be writing about, and these concerns were the only things I could think of.
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