Archive for January, 2016

Why School Sucks 3, The Latest Show I Did with My Kids

This is a what sucks and what rocks entry.  So good news and bad news

I have many negative mantras that screw up my day and make it hard to sleep at night.  I wrote, directed and performed in my first solo play in 1992. That show’s last week of rehearsal and several since then (including my latest show I did as just middle school director) my negative mantra was, “I’m never gonna pull this off by opening night.”

My short experience with Title 1 theatre programs in junior and senior high is markedly different.  Skipping/missing rehearsal is chronic.  CHRONIC!!!  Rarely do I have all actors present at any rehearsal.

My last student show was Don Zolidas’ 10 Ways to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse.  A fun, funny, clever, simple, producer’s/director’s wet dream of a one-act play.

There are a minimum of 8 players needed for the show to be performed.  I had 8 students either flake out, get removed from school or move away throughout the rehearsal process.  The last replacements were made 5 days before opening night.  (They were two Zombies who—SPOILER ALERT—were dead on!  Thank you!)

The final week of rehearsal I had a principal actress have to be evaluated for and undergo a day surgery procedure.  She missed opening week’s Tuesday rehearsal and was at the hospital having the procedure between 3:30 and 6:00.  Curtain was 6:30, so she missed our preshow run through.

Somehow, my awesome theatre nerd kids pulled it off and we had a kick ass show.  As for our just-operated-on student, she nailed it but was apparently unaware she was bleeding during the performance.

What rocks about this is several theatre miracles were pulled off that Friday.

What sucks is the nature of commitment on the part of parents and students.  Our culture seems to have lost the “rule” to honor commitments. This is sad because I want the kids to have an experience of everyone showing up for every rehearsal, being off-book two or three weeks early and seeing the kind of quality and precision we can produce if we practice and polish the show instead of pull off the first run through on opening night.

Old participation rules seem to remain in the area of sports.  I would love for my parents and kids respect rehearsal and the show like families of athletes respect practice and the game.

Oh and I was very happy my negative mantra about being ready for opening night was wrong.


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Why School Sucks 2, How to Raise a Brat

How to Raise a Brat

When it comes to school, you do not need to witness the incompetence of teachers because your child will never lie to you.  Use this line, “My child has never lied to me,” early and often.  If someone accuses your child of lying you must assassinate the character of the accuser.

The accuser doesn’t understand your complicated child, has it out for your child or is jealous of your child.  And if the child did lie, it is because the accuser was not in proper control of the classroom or was asking something unfair, irrational or unnecessary of your child.  All you have to do is interrogate the accuser and anything they say can be stretched, mischaracterized or misapplied to prove they should never have become teachers in the first place.

Every time your child sees you fight to win rather than fighting for the truth their selfishness, disrespect, ego-centrism, nastiness, contentiousness and oppositional defiance grows until voila YOU HAVE RAISED A BRAT!!!

With a little luck and a little more narcissism, you may have a bona fide sociopath in the family!

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Why School Sucks, 1 The Kids Are out of Control

Why are our kids not learning enough?  It’s because kids who already behave poorly are asked to come sit in a windowless classroom 6-7 hours a day, stay quiet and focused for 7-8 courses, sit by their friends with whom they’re not allowed to speak. They are being forced to study subjects many of which do not matter or do not appeal to the kids’ interests or have no practical application today or ever.

Kids are out of control before they get to the classroom usually because of parenting and economic inequalities.

Because we need to make school teach more effectively we need to make school stop sucking or at the very least suck less.

Because we can’t change economic injustice overnight we need to find ways to control the focus of children’s minds which means calming their behavior.  So discipline and class management must to be more effective.  And the less school sucks the easier job we’ll have of improving the culture and behavior of the classroom.

But NOTHING will change until we deal with classroom hijackers.  Kids who behave so horrible that the class can barely move forward.

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