A Real Hero

Today, I took my senior class on a trip. Students think it they are the only ones who are happy to get out of school for a day. How wrong they are! Taking students on a trip – many of whom do not leave their neighborhoods with any regularity other than coming to school – is so fulfilling.

Seeing the students outside of school can be like meeting him or her for the first time. We are away from the pressures and challenges of the classroom. For the day, there are no worries about commas or essays. We can have conversation and exchanges that are less formal and about topics that we are mutually interested in. It is a bonding opportunity and one I enjoy greatly.

Anyway, my students and I went to Manhattan and we saw the movie 42. I hope many of you have or plan on seeing the movie. The movie, which details Jackie Robinson’s entry into Major League Baseball, is definitely worth your time. Now, you know I love baseball (http://larrydbernstein.com/roy-halladay-please-come-back/& http://larrydbernstein.com/sports-depression/) but that is not why the movie is worthy. One can learn about history and the bravery and courage displayed both by Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey. There is no doubt that Jackie Robinson’s entry in professional baseball affected American history greatly.

Movie poster picture courtesy of Google.com

Movie poster picture courtesy of Google.com

The majority of my students who attended the movie with me are African American (some trace their routes to the Caribbean). Many are sports fanatics, and they would be happy to drop English class and replace it with sports talk. As we exited the theatre, I asked some of these same students how much of the Jackie Robinson story they knew before watching the movie. My small sampling surprised me – they knew next to nothing about him.

Part of the reason I justified taking the students to see a movie, other than the fact that they are seniors and I wanted them to have a fun day, is that we are reading Othello. You can make text-to-world connections between Jackie Robinson and Othello. Both are of African descent. Both have some excellent skill, yet both are not well received by society. Now of course, Othello ends tragically as he is manipulated by Iago and commits a terrible murder. Jackie Robinson, on the other hand, overcomes the taunting, threats, etc. and is ultimately viewed as a tremendous hero.

Jackie Robinson photo. Courtesy of Google.com

Jackie Robinson photo. Courtesy of Google.com

When we return to the classroom, I will know some of my students a little better. I will also return to the subject of Jackie Robinson and try to help the students understand a little more about this great hero. Othello, commas, and essays can wait a day.

39 thoughts on “A Real Hero

  1. I’m glad you had so much fun! Sounds like it was perfect for a senior field trip and that everyone enjoyed it!

    • It is a good connection to make with the students – you are correct there.
      I wouldn’t say wonderful – pretty good is probably more accurate.

  2. glad you had a wonderful time outside of school with your students Larry and that you also enjoyed the movie very much! 🙂 Now, the weekend is almost here, hope you will have a good one! 🙂

      • Thank you Larry! would love to, let’s see if I can manage a week day off and go to the movies with hubby! 😉

          • I sometimes watch movies so I don’t feel guilty about eating popcorn.

          • LOL! 🙂 I will use that as an excuse from now on!
            Hmm… you know what, I will prepare some popcorn tonight while hubby and I try to watch a movie (this is how it works in our house: we start watching a movie, Nate screams, cries, plays, screams again, hubby falls asleep in the middle of the movie, Nate screams more, calms down, I finish watching the movie by myself) so, I deserve some popcorn tonight right? ha!ha!

          • Hope you made it through the movie and got to the enjoy the popcorn. I mean the movie.

  3. I’m not the biggest baseball fan, actually, but I do recognize your hard work, research and writing to get this blog post published! Well done!

    • Even for those who don’t like baseball, I think the movie is worthwhile for the history it touches on.

  4. The thought of taking a class of teenagers on a field trip in a major metropolitan area makes my blood run cold. But then again, I’m guessing these kids have enough street smarts to find their way back to school if they need to, right? Hardly podunk kids from Podunkville.

    And good for you! I’m glad you care enough about your students to get to know them and to share something different with them.

    • They probably do have the ability to get back but I am still responsible for them.
      Based on your comment, I am guessing you don’t want to be the other adult on the next trip.
      Thanks for the compliment.

      • No sir, count me out. No field trips to the big city with teenagers for me!

        On a separate note, can I mail you my new cat? I think he would like New Jersey A LOT. Also I think he’d like to be mailed.

        And I think I’d like to mail him.

        • Wasn’t counting on it. I am not a cat person – don’t like ’em. Now your dog I would consider.
          Happy Mother’s Day.

  5. Very moving. Really liked the part about how it’s like getting to know students for the first time.
    I wonder if trips or informal meetings like these will make teaching/learning better in the classroom–or whether you just go back to your old roles.
    Kind of reminds me of the famous Christimas Truce of World War I, where the German and British soldiers paused in the middle of fierce fighting during the Christmas season and come out of their trenches to meet each other, exchange gifts and play soccer. (OK, I know teaching in Bed Stuy is not that bad, but you get the point.)

    • Firstly, it’s East New York.
      Secondly, I do think these types of meeting have some long term affect. It also depends upon how you follow up.

  6. What an awesome opportunity for you and your students. Taking hold of those teachable moments are so crucial to education. We want to see 42 as well.

  7. What a great opportunity for all of you! It is nice to step out of the confining definitions we place on ourselves, be it student, teacher, or whatever, and be fluid. I am surprised how few of your students knew about Jackie Robinson, especially since they are seniors, but I am glad you have introduced them to his story and are able to use his contribution to our history to further teach and make parallels to great works of literature.

    I have not yet seen this movie as Husband and I don’t get many date nights, but it would be a good movie to catch in the theater.

    • I was surprised that they knew so little of him (they knew of him but not much more than the cursory details).
      I hope you guys make it out – date nights are big. I don’t think it is the kind of movie that needs to be seen on a big screen though that always makes it more fun in my opinion.

  8. Trips like that with a good teacher are always fun. 🙂 Sounds like you had a good time.
    I like the way you connected the movie to the material.

    • Thanks for that last part. I do think they are relatable and it would be nice for the students to clearly get that.

  9. I remember every single one of my field trips as a student – they really stand out. And not only because you’re out of the classroom or because you’re discovering something new, but, as you say, because it was a chance to get to know my teachers and students from other classes. I’m sure your senior students really appreciated spending time with you outside the classroom – they’ll be college students in a few months, adults-in-training, so spending time with you almost as peers was probably a very special moment for them.

  10. Fantastic post! Sounds like such a great trip! How lucky these kids are to have such a caring, involved teacher. I haven’t seen it yet, but want to take my 9 year old to see this movie. Am thinking it might be a good teachable moment for her/us. In your opinion, is she too young? Thanks!

    • Thanks so much – glad you liked it. I make myself sound better than I am.
      Interesting q. My older boy just turned 9 and has gotten very into baseball (stats, history – not playing). Anyway, I don’t think he is ready for it – possibly when it comes on video and we sit together and talk about it. So, I think it depends on her maturity level. The N word is used regularly and there is a lot of ugliness in it, though ultimately it is about triumph.
      P.S. Happy Mother’s Day.

  11. Wow! I never had an English teacher take me on a field trip! Is this normal or did you have to pull a few strings? Also, my Dad is dying to see this movie….he is one of his biggest heroes! I don’t think my Dad has been to a movie theater in 20 years…maybe I’ll have to take him on a field trip!

    • Never one field trip. You missed out!
      Father and daughter bonding time. I am sure he would love to go with you.

  12. That is a great way to teach and to get to know your students better, I bet your students had a great time and really appreciate it.

  13. That is so cool that you got to do that with your students. I bet both you and the movie made quite an impression with your students. It’s good to get our from behind the desk and learn something without it feeling like a lesson.

    • I would like to think you are right. Either way, it is so nice to get out from behind the desk (I don’t sit all that often). Trips are the best.

  14. I’m glad you got to spend some time outside of the classroom with your students. It sounds like it went well.

    I saw the movie the other day, actually. I was glad to learn more about Jackie Robinson’s story. I thought the movie itself could have been better. It was just so touch-feely with little speeches in every scene. But I’m glad I saw it and got to learn more. I just love that kind of history.

  15. That’s one of the movies I want to see this summer. It looks fabulous! I’m glad you and your class had a good trip and the kids learned something (hopefully) while being entertained. You would have been a cool teacher in my books.

    • It’s a good movie especially for those who don’t know the story. What he went through seems so far away. The racism was so prevalent then.
      Thanks for the cool teacher comment.

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