The end of Rian’s first semester of high school is quickly drawing to a close. Exams start on Friday and carry into next week. She’s finished all her projects for her technology class (I think she has drafting for this part of the semester). Math has been going fairly well. She’s been bringing home 80s on her tests. So far, so good.
It’s the English credit and the French-language Geography credit I’m a bit concerned about. Both ISPs (Independent Study Projects) were due on Monday. The geography assignment was an oral presentation about an environmental issue a la Rick Mercer (for my American readers, Rick Mercer is a Canadian political satirist, who blatantly mocks everything and everyone, but is renowned for his “Rants” – a 90-second segment where he often turns serious, at least as serious as he can).
Here’s his rant “The War on Fun” about restrictions on the playgrounds.
This meant the presentation was meant to be humourous and sarcastic. Are flags going off for you too?? I don’t have a problem with the kids being asked to do satire, as a matter of fact, I think it’s an excellent exercise. The problem with satire is it needs to be done delicately and with finesse. I don’t know many teens who can pull it off successfully. My daughter being one of them.
Rian has a very quirky sense of humour. She is quick-witted and can be very sarcastic (I have no idea where she gets it from). Often though her delivery lacks the right level of “I’m just hacking on you” and comes across as “I’m dead serious and want to rip out your spleen”. I was most concerned about how she would be able to deliver this speech with the right balance of sarcasm and playfulness.
For her topic, Rian chose the Mega Quarry. A proposed pit mine that would operate in Ontario’s Niagara region, some of our most prime farmland (FYI – it was stopped). Rian researched (ok, mom nagged and Rian researched; mom ranted and Rian added a bit more meat to her write up; mom went ballistic and Rian added some decent stats, numbers and environmental impact statements to her work; then mom napped). Rian translated her information into French and was ready for her presentation.
Being the unique individual that she is, Rian chose to video tape her presentation. She
bribed coerced asked her brother for his assistance which he gave grudgingly willingly. They filmed it in the back yard. It took about 1/2 hour for a grand total of 90 seconds of footage. Actually, it probably wouldn’t have taken that long if they hadn’t kept coming in to “warm up”. It was a little chilly that day (wimps).
On Monday she was scheduled to show the class. When she came home from school she told me M. D. (M. is short for “monsieur”, French for mister) laughed at her presentation (this is good in this case) and she got a “B”. Woo hoo!!!! Given that she was failing this class in November a “B” is huge!! I was really excited for her.
Monday was also the due date for her English ISP. This assignment was also an oral presentation and it had to have an audio-visual element. The teacher emailed the outline for the assignment to me, which read “research an issue related to human rights and social justice“. There was a list of topics and influential social rights advocates included. Rian chose Nelson Mandela. I thought this was an excellent choice.
On Friday she informed me she had done all the research and just needed to put together the PowerPoint presentation. She worked for 6 hours that evening putting together the PowerPoint. I was so proud. I should have looked at it when she said she was done. I should have insisted on seeing her research. I should have, but I didn’t. Not until 8:30 pm on Sunday. Oy vey.
Nelson Mandela’s a pretty heavy topic and she had fluff (there’s nothing fluffy about human rights and social justice, folks; not one single thing). Pictures of him and Michael Jackson. Dancing elephants and monkeys (I had to explain to her the negative connotation of monkeys in relation to the black community and how, although monkeys are cute, she was not doing her topic justice with the possible negative connection). Her research included the number of years he’d been in prison, but not what he was imprisoned for. She touched on the protests Mandela participated in, but not what he and his commands were protesting. I was aghast.
I made her sit beside me and do some hardcore research for 2 hours. It was not fun. I passed Grade 9 English, thank you, with flying colours. I did not need to do it again.
Rian discovered how horrifically the black people of South Africa were treated – worse than cattle (she only read basic information and it upset her, she’s sensitive to people suffering). She learned that Mandela worked tirelessly his entire lifetime, and at great personal cost, to bring equality to that nation and its people.
The next morning she was ready 1/2 hour early so I made her sit down and continue her research at 7am (yup, I’m that kind of mom). She was able to pad her presentation and I think she had a much better grasp on the topic. I asked her about how the presentation went Monday evening and she felt confidant it went well. I don’t know when the teacher will give her the grade, but I’m hoping for a “C”.
This morning I reminded her to bring home her notes so she can start studying. After all, Friday’s only 3 days away and she can’t study without her notes. I’m sure she’ll remember, she’s going to want to hit those books right away. Being
delusional optimistic is a survival tool in the Madhouse.