Monday, September 15, 2008

great debates ... they're grrrrrrreat!

today i had a lovely day with the kids. even though they got all retarded over the summer, they seem to be getting back into the swing of things.

so today we did great debates, in which i break the kids up into teams (they decided they wanted to do boys vs. girls) and make them debate issues. this actually goes better than you would think.

when we did this back in the spring i noticed that the kids had trouble coming up with multiple points for any given topic. so first we had a practice round where we brainstormed as many points for and against a topic. i let them pick a practice topic, and they came up with Animal Testing. of course they are all against animal testing and i had to explain that when you are debating, sometimes you might have to defend a point that you don't actually believe in. with some prodding from yours truly, they were able to come up with some good points for both sides.

then we decided to have our "real" debate, and i gave them the topic "should people eat meat," figuring that it was in a similar vein, and maybe they could re-use some of the same points. suddenly they're all up in arms shouting, "how could anyone be against eating meat?!" so then i admit that i am a card carrying vegetarian, and there are gasps and murmurs throughout the crowd. (okay, i don't really carry a card or anything, and i did start eating sushi a couple years ago. it's just SO good. and fine ... i'll admit it ... i ate a pig in a blanket at the bat mitzvah i went to last week. those things just call to me! i can't resist them! but i didn't eat meat, chicken or fish for a solid 8 years so i say i can do whatever the hell i want.)

what were we talking about? oh yes, children debating! so the boys win the coin toss and decide they will be for meat eating. then my assistant helps the boys come up with their arguments and i help the girls.

the girls totally demolish the boys, even though they don't actually believe you shouldn't eat meat. the boys only argued that:
1. meat tastes good
2. meat makes you full and gives you energy
3. animals will have babies because it is part of the cycle of life so it's okay if we eat them because they will just make more animals

whereas the girls were able to make the following points:
1. it is mean/cruel to kill animals
2. if we kill animals they will miss their families (and their families will miss them) and that is not right
3. meat gives you high cholestorol (i helped them with this one)
4. animals have feelings
5. animals could have a disease and if you eat them you could get the disease (note: when writing their points down the girls spelled disease as d-zeez. i nearly died.)

so after each team goes through their points, i ask them some questions, trying to see if they can get any more information out of them. so i ask the girls what diseases an animal might have that might make it dangerous to eat. (someone passing through had mentioned mad cow during our brainstorming session, so i was hoping one of them would remember this) one girl shouts out "HIV!" to which i reply, "absolutely not." then another girls shouts out, "AIDS!" to which i again reply, "absolutely not." cancer, diabetes, and rabies are all suggested. and then dear blog readers, i couldn't help myself. i had to educate these kids. damnit, why am i always doing that.

me: please tell me how people get HIV and AIDS
girls: (awkward silence)
me: i know this is strange to talk about, but please tell me
girls: well, you get it from doing bad things
me: what kind of bad things? killing someone? stealing? what bad things are we talking about?
girls: having, like, um, sex and stuff
me: yes, people get HIV and AIDS from having unprotected sex. so can you get HIV or AIDS from eating meat?
girls: no

do you see the amazing work i do?

so then it was the boys turn. i mentioned that the girls had brought up that animals had feelings and that it wasn't right to kill them, and asked them if they had anything to say in response to this. i was hoping they would say something like "how do they know animals have feelings?" or "people are smarter than animals so it's okay" or "animals eat other animals so why can't we?" you know, the typical stuff. they couldn't come up with any of these. but then ... oh then kid who hates hoboes stands up and says "yeah ... well ... they all eat meat! they say that it's wrong, but they do it anyway! they're liars!"

so i applauded kid who hates hoboes, telling him that if this was a political debate he would have totally exposed his opponents for being hypocritical (insert brief explanation of hypocritical), but unfortunately, in this debate you don't have to believe in what you are debating. i suggested that he consider entering politics.

damned, that kid who hates hoboes has spunk. sadly he is turning into a juvenile delinquent right before my eyes. but maybe he can be saved. ahhhh the power of debate.


*Bitch Cakes* said...

Just another day's work for our fine heroine, Ms Dewey Decimal!

Question: Do you have the patience of a saint, or just it does appear that way?

Miss Dewey Decimal said...

it only appears that way. trust me.

Peonys said...

You make your job sound like so much fun. I am thankful that you're there with those children, and sharing with them that learning can be fun.

Miss Dewey Decimal said...

some days it is fun. i won't lie to you. but some days it is very very hard work and i wish i got paid more.