I have so much to post about that I don’t even have time to post!
I wanted to share this highlight from one of my seventh grade classes. I was giving a lesson on adpositional “to” and “for” in verbs with two objects (in other words, “I sent a letter to my mom” vs “I bought a tie for my dad”). My coteacher suggested that the students make up their own examples and write them on the board. Things quickly turned hilarious. At first they just rehashed our examples, but then one girl came up and wrote “I killed him for you.” Next was a boy who committed suicide for someone. I said that he must have been reading Romeo and Juliet and my coteacher laughed. The best by far, however, was the next girl, who wrote the following:
“I killed Justin Bieber for the world.”
We – me, and the whole class – gave her a round of applause. We were all just so proud.
It’s amazing, though, how connected these kids are to things like American pop culture through the internet. Blah blah blah, nothing new, I know, it’s a global youth culture, the internet brings us all together, etc. It’s just that this is Georgia – a society that is very much trying to decide how to balance the old and the new, the traditional and the modern, the conservative and the progressive – and if you talk to most Georgians, the old, traditional, and conservative ways are winning or should win – but then a little eleven or twelve year old Georgian girl just comes and puts an end to Justin Bieber in front of the whole class, and more importantly, everyone in the room knows exactly what she is talking about and why it is funny – and it really makes you think. The political conflict between old and new is taking place on one level, but on another level, there’s really no contest at all. The next generation of Georgians is going to be wired into the pulse of the outside world – they’re going to be citizens of the world – and their identity is going to be a lot more like mine and yours (yes, you who are reading this) than it will be like their parents’ or grandparents’. Just a prediction.
I remember seeing my teenage sister after two years of not seeing her. In the intervening time she had spent a bunch of time on the internet, and with other people who spent a lot of time on the internet – it wasn’t like she said so, but I could just tell. We knew all the same TV shows, comedians, jokes, in-jokes, references, everything. I’d been living in New York and she in the deep boon-docks of Florida, and yet the two of us shared a mutual language and culture that none of my other relatives really have. It made me think a lot about my own identity and culture, and how in many ways I am a product of the internet. I’ve spent more than half my life surfing the internet (yeah, people used to call it “surfing”), IMing with friends, blogging and journaling, and generally just having that connection to a specific but very, very far-reaching community of practice (there’s an anthro term thrown in there for you). My formative years took place half in the real world, and half online.
So teaching Georgian children is a really interesting experience, because oddly enough, I have a lot more in common with them than I did with the adults at the Police Academy. I doubt any of my adult students would have laughed at or even understood the Justin Bieber thing.
And I know that not all Georgian children have the internet, not all of them have computers or even electricity. The internet phenomenon in Georgia is currently specific to larger cities and wealthier families (although I hear there are internet cafes all over the country, even in the provinces and villages) but it’s spreading rapidly, and the Georgian government is encouraging it.
And a lot of these young Georgian children – TLG or no TLG – are going to grow up to be a lot like me: facebooking, blogging, networking, absorbing American/global/internet culture, and doing some of whatever the next big internet things are going to be. They’ll shock their parents and friends by writing about things on the internet that they aren’t supposed to be talking about. They’ll still be Georgian – just like I’m still, in many ways, a New Yorker – but they’ll also be Internetian.
It’s a pleasant surprise being able to relate to my students so well. Teaching at public school is turning out to be a great experience on a number of levels.
More later. For now, enjoy an internet phenomenon (warning: this clip contains explicit violence that your children have probably seen already):