Friday, August 17, 2007

Now that I'm old and can read whatever I want, I've started reading "the Classics". (The Classics being entertaining American Fiction, although I started Crime and Punishment and bought The Prince for my next book).

I've been through The Jungle (never eating hot dogs again), traipsed through My Antonia, (I have a soft spot for Czech immigrants, apparently) and am currently settled with Country of the Tall Pines. I seem to be going back in time.

There are a few books that I wasn't interested in actually reading, but are referred to so often, and have entered our phraseology, that I felt I needed to be more familiar with them. So I rented Catch-22 from Blockbuster online, for free, figuring it would save me the time and money of reading the book.

Totally backfired. The film is a little artsy, but I think that comes more the novel's structure than the director. But... Oh. My. Word. The dialogue. The dialogue! I watch movies with the closed captioning on, because I am writing a movie and it helps me connect words on the page with what it looks like on screen. I'm only halfway through the movie, but I'm going to ditch it and get the book. I don't want to spoil the plot points (since the movie starts with the demise of main character, I already know how it ends).

Wikipedia sums up the theme nicely:
Heller suggests that rules left unchecked will take on a life of their own, forming a bureaucracy in which important matters (e.g., those affecting life and death) are trivialized and trivial matters (eg clerical errors) assume enormous importance. He concludes that the only way to survive such an insane system is to be insane oneself.
This seems particularly relevant after reading the new Parent Handbook for Mr. R's school. I was bemused miffed when I read the disciplinary actions section. There are three levels of offenses. Level 3 is criminal activity.

Level 1 includes:
Classroom tardiness, cheating, lying, cutting class, and forging notes.

That's right! Being late to class is on the same plane as cheating on your exams.

Level 2 includes:
Use of an intoxicant, vandalism, stealing, possession of unauthorized substances, and the ultimate sin - refusal to obey school personnel.

Not minding your teacher in the same category as drinking and stealing.

He is in a special self-contained ED classroom. He has his own personal Catch-22 there...

The classroom is set up to be a particular environment for his problems. There are two teachers, and five students, all boys. The schedule is fairly rigid and includes a precise and consistent behavior modification program. Mr. R did so well here that he almost disqualified himself from remaining in the classroom! "Luckily" he had one major meltdown so he still qualifies... but it is frustrating! The reason he is in the self-contained class is because he has problems in regular classes. The self contained class is specifically designed to eliminate the triggers of behaviors and support learning. But if he doesn't misbehave, and actually learns, he is put back into a regular class with no accomodations - until he requalifies for the self-contained class by failing again.

I think I'm going to like the book.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 8/17/2007 09:56:00 AM | Permalink | |