Today I set up a "fun" lesson. My 9th graders have been exploring law and deciding if they're going to our Law Academy for their next three years of high school. They're a diverse lot, with a common thread: they are more open and forthcoming than any group I've had in ten years. They aren't children who've been coddled, but rather, they come from hard working families and are expected to contribute. Some of them are better off than others, but they, for the most part, make few judgements. They impress me daily.
Yesterday we had some fun with out-dated laws, so today we took a look at some dumb criminals. There are a few young men in my classes who wear their pants low enough that I will say, "My goodness, hike up those trousers, you're traumatizing me!" and they laugh and tug up their pants. When those same boys watched would-be thieves trying to run off with their loot only to have their pants trip them up, their laughter was loudest. I often admonish them: "Be classy!" so one young man today said, "Hey Miss, that sure wasn't classy!" when a fellow who was attempting to make off with a case of beer fell flat on his face as the cans rolled away. We discussed the laws explained by the Discovery Investigation show, and the criminals' behavior, and then we went to ABC's dumb crime videos.
As we all know, one video leads to another on sites like these, and the title of an unrelated video caught our collective eye. It seems a young man killed his parents about an hour south of our high school, and the judgement has just come back in his trial.
If ever an impromptu problem solving lesson worked, this was it.
The students frequently asked to pause the video to discuss the details and merits of the case, the testimony given, the "look" of the defendant and the interview of his best friend. They questioned the interviewer's tactics, the program's agenda, and the mystery of why none of us had heard of this case. I was in awe. They didn't even realize they were brilliant, kind, analytical, and sensitive. They were just thinking. And learning. So was I.