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Day 79: Membership

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Day 79/180: Public school chemistry and AP chem, and belonging

Subbing at my old school, for not-my-class. I got three hugs again today (man, I miss them!)

Along with my last post on academic maturity, today’s students were dialed-in for their work. Set/clear expectations? Doing the school-thing? Getting homework out of the way? Or something else?

One of the interesting things I heard about today involved a discussion of classes, and having to take “membership courses”: the classes you just have to sit through to obtain the requisite credits. This is sort of what I knew as “easy As” or “jumping through hoops”. But I’ve always thought of having a common goal (or some sort of investment in the group) as a characteristic of membership.

So what does it mean to be a member of something? During the same class, a few kids were disgruntled with the proposed “red out” at the game next week (wearing red to promote heart disease awareness), because red is the color for a rival high school. Some were just irritated that they were supposed to promote awareness rather than actually do something.

Being part of The Club is kinda fun. I mean, beyond the exclusivity of it all. Classes can be like mini-clubs, where “outsiders” may not get all of the inside jokes (or course content). Some experiments are only done by kids in AP, and that privilege has to be earned. And I like the idea of kids wanting to be in the club. And a whole school is also kind of a club. If you meet someone, and you find out they also attended your school or college, there’s an automatic camaraderie, even if you didn’t attend at the same time.

And it’s kinda nice to know someone else had similar experiences, even if you’ve never talked with them before. The familiarity is comforting and friendly, kinda like an ally. Allies, however, can mean drawing battle lines with rivals. It’s a strange construction to make sure that the school-club isn’t so exclusive that it keeps others out, but makes the club desirable for everyone.

The kids I saw today were members of their school, of chemistry and AP chem classes. But also of English 12 Honors, cliques, particular sports teams, leadership teams, the band, and college-bound friends. It’s my job, even as a sub, to make them all like being in class, and hopefully learn a thing or two.

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