Fri 29 Oct, 2004 10:31 am
Well, maybe not exactly, but the article implies that he's more like a teacher than most entertainers. Carlin's fascination with words, shades of meaning, euphemisms and the like have given him the idea that, if he hadn't become a comedian, he'd've tried to become a Professor of Linguistics.
Language, of course, is the tool of all comedians and of most entertainers. Could other entertainers be plausible as teachers? Could some of your teachers (past or present, any level) be plausible as entertainers? Do you think that putting the two together is a good idea (keeps up the students' interest), or a bad one (students might not be serious, might not buckle down)?
I always loved his reference to "stuff", Jes, among other things.
As for the entertainer/teacher relationship, I have been there in both capacities, and it is often a blessing and a curse.
When I taught paralegals, I recall it was a real problem if you were too entertaining, no one took the material seriously and then they were stunned when there was exactly one A in the class and a slew of C's.
Wow! I don't know how one teaches law, Jes. That would be a no nonsense type direction. Bet your students were a mite surprised at all those C's. The students who finally found out that I wasn't there to win a popularity contest, were a bit disgruntled, but a bit wiser.
Well, I taught torts, and I think there can be a lot of humor in it (e. g. there's a famous trespass to chattels case which involves a small child "riding" on the back of a dog and pulling the dog's ears. It wasn't the child's family who sued, it was the dog's owners). There are just some silly things that happen and end up in courts - another silliness - is Palsgraf vs. Long Island Rail Road. It's a seminal case and involves a woman being injured (not so funny, obviously) when a guy, just some businessman type, decided it was okay to carry dynamite with him while commuting. The absurdity of it all is, well, it's right there.
But yes, there's a lot of straightforward stuff. It's either negligence or it isn't, here are the parameters, it's strict liability or not, here are the elements, etc., and a lot of students just could not get their act in gear enough to convey the information on paper. And a lot of them wanted to be lawyers - paralegal school was just a sidetrack because they thought it would make it easier or more likely for them to get into Law School - and so I'm sure it was a surprise when the "easy" class/school wasn't so easy.
There's no short cut to law, is there. Seems to me that Abe Lincoln was a reader of the law as opposed to being a student of the law.
Hmmmm. Just remembered Hester Prynne's comment to those who decorated her with the scarlet letter.
"....daily it teaches me..."
I didn't vote at all on Amendment Three here in Florida. Having a son who is a doctor, and a niece who is a lawyer, I just couldn't decide.
I think Carlin already IS a teacher. I know that's kind of a sidetrack to the point of your thread, but I just love the guy.
I still remember my favorite teacher, Mr. Nacarella. He was my english teacher in 5th or 6th grade, I believe. He was a great storyteller.
I think being funny and clever with language is probably a plus for most subjects.
I think it was William James who announced that a good teacher should fill his students with an abiding enthusiasm for the subject matter. Obviously, to do this the teacher must be enthusiastic himself.
I'd guess that your students, Jes, were expecting a gut course. The flaw was not your light-hearted approach, but their lack of mental discipline and precision. After all, they attended every class--what more could you ask?
I've heard a number of college level teachers complaining that students expect grade inflation--particularly on their own personal transcripts. "I had a cold." "I had to work overtime and couldn't study." "I'm having personal troubles." The High Schools deal with The Whole Child and the college professors reap some very self-centered, whirlwinds of mental apathy.
True enough on expecting a good grade for just showing up. Others expected it for participating, even though they were never told that it would enhance their grades, and often just talked to hear the sounds of their own voices, it seemed.
Abe Lincoln isn't/wasn't the only one who read for the Bar (as opposed to going to school). I believe you can still do it in some states (California?) but it tends to take longer than Law School and you would most likely end up taking time off from work anyway, so why not pay for Law School and get the whole thing over with in 3 or 4 years, rather than in 5 or more?
I think one of the more entertaining teachers I had in HS was a Chem teacher who was young and kind of mischievous. But I can't say that I actually recall much from Chem. Then again, that was all - gulp - over 25 years ago, and I don't exactly use Chem in my daily life.
One of my vivid memories of public school was the day Miss S. who had the 7th and 8th Grades for English, History and Geography interruped a very dull monologue on the wheatfields of the Great Plains, gave a little shriek and dashed down the aisle to the back of the room where she shook Ron P. by the ears, screaming,
"All right. Be like the Jews and crucify Jesus."
Ron P. was very slow of brain, but he was a well-behaved lad about 6 feet tall who sat in the back of all classes and never gave anyone a bit of trouble.
Miss S. had other peculiar moments and retired at the end of the year after having taught 7th and 8th grades for 44 years.
P.S. Ron P. was Methodist. There were two Jewish children in the school system, one in 3rd grade and the other in 5th. They were exceptional students. By the time they were in 7th and 8th grade, Miss S. was long gone.
Entertaining and ... odd.
Then again, I had a third-grade teacher who wore a variety of wigs. One day we saw her with lovely long brown hair and it was apparently the real stuff. But it was entertaining to try to figure out what she was going to look like on any particular day.
I had a young cousin who remarked that he was always glad when his teachers got new clothes or wore seasonal decorations (pins, earrings, etc) beause change made them more interesting.