Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Day 44: The Doctor Is In

I have never fully understood the black and white nature of heroes and villains.

I have trouble with villainous motivation.  Other than revenge, the reasons why villains do what they do has always seemed hollow to me.


Me: "...why?"
Them: "...Because RULING THE WORLD!!"
Me: "Yeah, but why? For what purpose?"
Them: "I...what do you mean?"
Me: "Say you rule the world. What are you going to do with it? What would you do with yourself then that you can't do now?"
Them: "I would be in charge! I could do whatever I wanted!"
Me: "So what would you do?"

In James Bond, the villains have mixed motivations: world conquest, power, money, shaping the future, etc.

They create these deeply elaborate schemes that require insane amounts of money.  They have henchmen, armies, toys, gadgets and resources beyond imagining.  The precariously balanced plans never seem to lead anywhere that's BETTER than what they already have.

In Tomorrow Never Dies, Elliot Carver is a media mogul who has the goal of ruling the media of the world.  But they never talk about WHY?  He already controls MOST of the media and he has enough money to buy whatever he wants.  He doesn't have a clear ideology that he seems to want to brainwash people with.  He just wants to rule the media.

But why?  To what end??

It always seems to come down to money.

"I'm gonna use this money to get more money so I can have more power to get more money!"

But it's not as though they are trying to find a way to go from middle class to upper class.  They are always moving from insanely rich to slightly more insanely rich.

What could you buy with $500,000,000,000 that you couldn't buy with $400,000,000,000?

Hero motivation is always fairly simple.  "I need to protect."  This, I understand.  I see this every day and it doesn't require any overarching goals.  Nobody is ever asked why they need to protect because that seems like a silly question.
"Yes, but WHY Hulk smash?"

The real world is MUCH more complex.  People have multiple motivators both explicit and implicit.  In many cases, they don't fully understand them.  I know that I don't always understand why I do what I do, or why I feel what I feel.

I held conferences with most of my geometry students today.

Me: "Tell me what you think you deserve this marking period and why?"
90% of them: "I think I deserve a high B."
Me: "Why not a low B or a low A? or a high A?"
905 of them: **mumbling something about being able to do better but feeling comfortable with the majority of the work**

What they are really saying is "I want an A, but if I say that, you'll think I'm arrogant and laugh at me.  If I say a C, you'll think I'm pretending to be humble. B seems like a safe bet."

When I pointed this out to them, they almost all admitted that I was right and then we had a better discussion.  I explained that all I was looking for was the truth.  I also asked about their plans for improvement during the rest of the year. I got some amazing gems from a few people.

"I need to check my work without second guessing myself.  I often put down the right answer, but then think I must be wrong and change it.  I need to trust my instincts more."

A few said they needed to study more.
"Is studying really your problem?"
"...no. I don't really ask questions when I'm confused."

It was clear that they have never really been asked to self-evaluate.  After the initial false humility and attempts to give the answers they thought I wanted to hear, we had some good conversations.  Many students do have a firm grasp on how much they actually know and what they can actually do.  Away from the social pressure, they are much better at introspection.

I am proud of them.

And then, when I asked a young woman about what grade she thought she deserved, she started to cry.

I was completely taken aback.

This is the second time this week that students have broken down into tears in my class.  It's only Tuesday!

All I was able to get out of her was that she hates talking to teachers about her grades.  She currently has a VERY good grade in my class, so I don't think it's a shame thing.  There is something deeper here that I don't understand.

I told her that she didn't have to talk if she didn't want to, but I would be available if she did.

I'm starting to feel as though I need to put a couch in the corner on my room.

I desperately wish I had more time with some of these kids...

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