Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Blindfolding Samoans

"I longed, yet dared not, to employ my vision. I dreaded the first glance at objects around me. It was not that I feared to look upon things horrible, but that I grew aghast lest there should be nothing to see. At length, with a wild desperation at heart, I quickly unclosed my eyes. My worst thoughts, then, were confirmed. The blackness of eternal night encompassed me." - The Pit and the Pendulum, Edgar Allan Poe

Prior to the month long preparation for Samoan Day, we read Poe's story, The Pit and the Pendulum. Before getting to that, let me rant a little bit.  ...   I really despise our class textbook. It was written for students who speak English as a first language, and the stories within it are difficult for second language learners (especially for Samoan high school students). Unfortunately, it is all I really have and making copies of other stories is sometimes impossible. Plus, I don't want to waste paper. Anyways, when flipping through the book, I found both P&P and The Raven, but decided to read P&P because I had actually never read it before and because another WTer gave me some great class activity ideas to go with it. I read the story and thought it was okay, and then decided to read it again and during my second time around, I realized how good it is!

Let's take another break and talk about me and my severe lack of understanding all things symbolic in literature. I feel as if I have discussed this before? Oh well, let's review. I am not the type of person who can read something and go "WOW. I didn't realize that that piece of white cloth really meant this." or "Who would have thought that he was actually trying to tell that other girl what he thought about that man's best friend's cousin's ex girlfriend." Hmph. I first struggled in high school. The stories we read went right over my head, but I loved, loved, LOVED my English classes, so I tried my best. College was just awful. The few lit. classes that I did take were not enjoyable for me at all. Oh well. Anyways, back to my original point...when I read through P&P for a second time, I GOT IT. I literally got it. I found the little things that symbolized something else. I asked myself rhetorical questions. I made myself proud. I figured that if I could understand it, I could get 60 Samoan teenagers to understand it. That was my goal. Did I achieve it?

Yes, I did.

Did they find the symbols?

Yes, they did.

Hooray, I could be proud of everyone!

It wasn't until we got to the part where the pendulum is about to slice the poor guy in half that they got interested, but either way, most of them enjoyed the story. After we finished reading, I decided to do something that would get them thinking not just about a part in the story, but about actual life. For the first part of P&P, the man is trying to figure out the shape and size of his dungeon. His torturers have left him in complete darkness, so he must explore his cell using every sense but his eyes. From this, I decided to blindfold all my students (not all at once, that would be chaos), and take them on a walk around the LHS grounds. Not only would they understand what it was like for the prisoner, but also for people who are blind. We have two blind students at our school but even then, I don't think most people realize what life is like to not be able to see anything, ever. So, we tried this out. It was a bit crazy of me to leave the classroom with all of them, but they had a good time, and I have pictures to prove it!

Some of them hated being blindfolded and couldn't wait to take it off. Others were really interested in what it was actually like to be blind. This is 5th period in front of the cafeteria. I took them around trees, I walked them up steps...their buddy had to keep track of them to make sure they didn't fall.

Third period girls

2nd period

3rd period

2nd period boys. This picture puts such a big smile on my face!

The photographer got creative and took a picture of me talking to my class. : ) I was probably telling them to quit yelling. Ha.

This is probably my favorite picture from the entire bunch. So much buddy love. I'm telling you - they do not have personal space on this island. 

3rd period holding on to their buddies!

For all you teachers out there--if you ever read P&P, try this activity! I don't regret doing it at all. We had a lot of fun, and we had some great discussion about what life is like for people who are blind. 



Mom said...

Wow, Quinn. You are incredible.

Erwin said...

I wish this was facebook so I could "like" your Mom's comment.


Libby said...

Awesome! You're such a good teacher :) And I totally laughed out loud when you were talking about finding symbolism in stories, but without that frustration we might not have ever become bffs in a lit class!