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.
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.
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.