Saturday, September 12, 2015

Halfway Through My Kindle Scout Campaign and Teaching Ninth Graders

On the first day of school I told my ninth graders a story.
There is a jealous baron who must travel, but before he leaves he tells his wife, "Do not leave the castle. If you do, I will punish you severely when I return."
Well, the baroness decides it's worth the risk to go see her boyfriend, so she crosses the river, has a good time, and leaves to go home before her husband finds out. But once she gets to the river, she encounters a madman who says, "If you try to cross the river, I'll kill you." 
The baroness goes for help, first to her boyfriend, who says, "I don't want to get involved, so I'm not helping you." 
Then she goes to a boatman, who will only take her across the river if she can pay him, but the baroness has no money. Finally she goes to a friend and begs her for help. 
But the friend says,"Sorry, you got yourself into this situation. I'm not helping you."
The baroness goes back to the river and tries to cross anyway, but the madman finds her and kills her. 
The End.
I ask the kids: who is the most responsible for the murder of the baroness? Overwhelmingly, they say the baroness herself.
This blows my mind. "What about the madman?" I ask. "He's the one who actually killed her!"
"But he's crazy," they say. "And besides, he warned her that he'd kill her if she tried to cross."
"The baroness is a twat," more than one student remarked. (And yes, I then lectured them about using appropriate language and about my opinions on misogyny.) "Her husband told her not to go. She deserves what she got."
I pointed out that the her husband was most likely abusive, since he threatened to "severely punish her." Didn't matter.
One kid said, "If you're one the South Side of Chicago and your mama tells you not to go outside and you stand out on the sidewalk for a smoke and get shot, then it's your fault."
I congratulated him for his ability to apply fiction to a real-life situation.
A lot of my students lead very difficult lives, so in a way it doesn't surprise me that see the baroness as responsible. Doing so probably helps them believe that making the right choices will keep them safe. I hope that it does.
The point of the exercise is to practice class discussion and to use a story as means of exploring personal beliefs and opinions. In that sense, I think it was a success.
I am now HALFWAY through my Kindle Scout campaign. It is going well, especially since Candace from Candace's Book Blog is helping me out. Authors, I strongly recommend doing some sort of promotion like I've done. She put together a book blog campaign for me, and to pique reader's interest there's a giveaway for an Amazon gift card. It's definitely helped me get noticed.
But I still have a long way to go. Please, if you haven't nominated The Standout on Kindle Scout yet, click here right now and help me out! If my book gets published you'll get a free copy!

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