There Is No “Try.”

She seems proud of her student's alien robot wrecking ability.

She seems proud of her student’s alien robot wrecking ability.

I watched the whole first season of “Star Wars: Rebels.” It was pretty good. It didn’t blow me away, a few episodes were really quite good. It looks at the Star Wars Universe as a setting, and sets some characters in motion within that setting in very acceptable ways. The least likable characters to me are Ezra and Kanan, the Thief and the Jedi. Mostly, I’m not so keen on the characters because they are two dimensional, and cookie cutter.

Readers need to know exactly nothing about the current “Star Wars” publishing line from Marvel Comics prior to picking up Kanan – The Last Padawan No. 1. That having been said, the title is kind of exposition heavy, with the kind of generic “Jedi Action” set during the Clone Wars that I just am not all that happy with. The things that I like about “Rebels” as a series are really just introductory elements, this is really the story of young Kanan, as implied through the title. Very much a “meh” on my side.

Still…Star Wars is key in Science Fiction/Fantasy in solidifying the all important teacher-student bond. The whole point of the Jedi path is to teach it to someone else, and the quality of a Jedi is often determined by his successes of failures as a teacher. Ben Kenobi beat himself of big time for what happened to NSYNC Darth. In fact, the whole Anakin Skywalker thing is what makes Kenobi the patron saint of crummy teachers.

My failures, although less spectacular than Kenobi’s, are more numerous.

Having been back a day right now, I have these things very much in my mind. The role of questioning (as brought up by the comic) and the teacher- student relationship. I’m being forced to shove my students through a district level assessment, arguably to demonstrate their reading comprehension and the things they have learned about expository composition. Arguably. The test, like many, is flawed…and the year has been challenging enough that my students are not quite in a position to excel like the baby Jedi in the art. Some will, of course. Still, today was slow going, and a slow start.

A calmer day than expected, though. That was an unexpected but a good thing, as the school has been somewhat chaotic as of late. The first day back from a break is always on the quieter side, though.

There was a time when I actually taught fencing at the district’s school site, as an extracurricular activity. A couple of weeks ago, one of my proteges came to visit my co teacher and myself. She’s an adult now, a junior at UCLA, and still fencing with their team. The two of us could not have been prouder of that young lady, but it also puts a sharp contrast to what we are able to do NOW.

Drawing the art above, I was thinking of that excellent young person, who stopped by to visit. I was also thinking about the young people now, in front of me, and how the school is fundamentally underserving them. It’s a paradoxical state of affairs, a Schroedinger’s Cat-like problem of success and failures. Perhaps the spectacular nature of some successes outweighs more numerous small failings.

I’m not sure that Ben Kenobi would agree.

The day of this post is day two of that essay assessment. The topic is far from the engaging sort that we are told to address students with. My students will be expected to produce a logical argument for or against the virtues of bottled water, in a five paragraph expository essay with evidence and citations. Not exactly and adventure in writing, to be sure. Interestingly, most of them will complete the task. A significant number will do so to a degree that the state would call “proficient.” A surprising number, countable on one hand per class, will simply not turn anything in.

That’s the trickiest part. What do you do for a student who wants no part of the assignments? How can you engage the student at all, and thusly, make them succeed.

Like the tiny green man said, “Do…or do not. There is no try.” For some, “there is no try” has evolves into “just don’t try.” It’s a depressing effect of simply not turning in work, and easily accounts for much of the under performance academically that I see.

Thankfully, I have a few bright shining proteges to hang the hope of the future on, as they toil away in undergraduate programs. Keep slashing those metaphorical robots, young ladies. Oh…and of course, take a good swing at the opponent in white on the other side of the strip.

After all, thee is no try.

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