I'm covering 19th century Europe in my classes, and worked the students pretty hard over the Scientific Revolution, Enlightenment and French Revolution. Thought I'd give them a break from book work and fit a little culture into the class too.
I've shown them the 10th anniversary concert of Les Miserables. I've discussed with them the difference between Common Law and Civil Code using the plot of the story.
What discourages me though is that the music and the story is very emotional. Certain notes in the songs just tug at your heart. The theme song "Can You Hear The People Sing?" makes you want to start marching to the beating drum. AND I CAN'T GET THE STUDENTS TO STAY AWAKE LONG ENOUGH TO SEE OR HEAR IT!
What has happened to the young people today? In all the years I was in public schools in Colorado and New Mexico no one ever slept in class. My generation had plenty of bad attitude in both Junior High and High School, but sleeping in class was never a problem teachers faced then.
If it was a problem in first period because it is rather early or sixth period when everyone is a little tired it might be understandable, but it is every bloody period. If I'm speaking to the class I have to walk through the class and tap desks to get kids to lift their heads up. (Our administration is adamant that students not sleep in class, and I agree with them on this issue)
If I have them doing group work half of the kids work on the project and the other half try to sleep here as well.
What also discourages me is the lack of feeling on the part of the students. When I showed Shogun last semester (it took me the whole eighteen weeks to get through it was shown on our flex days when we have a two hour period) when Mariko is killed at the end of the mini-series most of the students didn't bat an eyelash. A few of the girls seemed to react, but the majority felt nothing.
How can anyone listen to Fontine's aria as she is dying and worrying about her daughter Cossette and not be moved?
Does Rap and Hip Hop music, horny teenager or mad slasher movies, and video games make our children emotionally numb?
God help us all!