More on my presentation about US high schools
A little bit more about the presentation on U.S. high schools that I did: (it is taking two class periods with the older kids and upwards of three with the babies, so I have more reactions to report)
When talking about the college application process, I tried to explain affirmative action, and why colleges make a concerted effort to accept minorities. This doesn’t really make sense to them, because they have very few minorities here, mostly recent immigrants who are struggling to get by and aren’t applying to college in droves. And the repression that Spain enacted was overseas in the Americas, not right in front of their faces, as it was in the US.
So to explain affirmative action, I had to first explain the oppressive racial segregation that is a part of US history and present. That was a tall order, and I was nowhere near prepared enough with historical facts and pictures to accommodate the amount of explaining I would have to do to convey what happened and still happens in the US.
I think my whole speech about the Jim Crow South was lost on them, because they didn’t believe the things I was telling them (when I said that blacks and whites had separate water fountains, several jaws dropped) and I didn’t connect it well to affirmative action. Maybe I’ll revisit the topic in a history presentation.
Another thing that probably flew over their heads was my mention of Gay/Straight Alliances. I mentioned it as an after-school activity without even thinking how much explaining I would have to do. Some classes thought it was a club for gay people to have sex. Some classes thought it was a club meant to turn gay people straight. Some classes thought it was a club for gay people to have sex with straight people. I hope, hope, hope none of them still think those things, but I doubt any of the classes are clear on the concept in the end.
Basically, many of the things I mentioned are so clear in my mind that I didn’t realize they needed explanation. So when the inevitable “gwhat ees dees” question arose, I had to improvise descriptions of complicated topics in simple English. Which I am not good at doing. And yes, I am allowed to make fun of their accents. You should hear how much they make fun of mine.
They were amazed by the range of elective classes and after-school activities and enjoyed imagining which classes they would take. They liked seeing a sample high school schedule. They liked when I talked about flour babies, thought prom and graduation were awesome ideas, and that superlatives in yearbooks were funny. Maybe I could do superlatives as a sort of end-of-the-year activity.
An over-all assessment of the presentation is that it was a hit. While some things confused the students, nearly every kid was listening for the entirety of every class. They asked questions, had mini-debates about whether the Spanish or US systems were better, and now they know that some of the things they see in the movies are real, and some aren’t.