A teaching moment, scene 1

“Next, let’s turn our attention to the Cold War’s Domino Theory articles you read last night. Who wants to start us off by sharing what you answered for my first question.”

Silence. Stares. Sniffle.

“How about you Sean?”

“What?”

“Share your answer.”

“What answer?”

“My first question?”

“I didn’t hear it.”

“I didn’t say it. It’s the question that I asked you to consider for last night’s reading.”

“Ok.”

“Ok what.”

“I considered it.”

“And?”

“I didn’t know the answer.”

“You don’t know?”

“Huh uh.”

“It was asking your opinion. What’s your opinion?”

“I couldn’t find it?”

“Your opinion?”

“I Googled it, but I don’t think it was right.”

“You Googled your opinion.”

“Yeah.”

“But it’s your opinion. You can’t find your opinion online.”

“Why not?”

“Cuz it’s your opinion. It’s whatever you think.”

“Well, I think I don’t know the answer.”

“Did anybody answer this question?”

Silence. Stares. Sniffle.

“Wait, who Googled the answer to the first question I gave you?”

All the students raised their hands.

“Kelly, what did you find the answer to be.”

Kelly read from her paper, “The domino theory was a theory prominent from the 1950s to the 1980s, that posited that if one country in a region came under the influence of communism, then the surrounding countries would follow in a domino effect.”

“That’s not an opinion. That’s just what the Domino Theory is.”

“Oh. I didn’t know you wanted my opinion.”

“But that was the question. You all wrote it down, and it’s on the class assignment page too.”

“Oh.”

“Kelly, what’s ‘posited’ mean?”

“I don’t know.”

“What’s the Domino Theory?”

“I don’t know.”

“Mark, what do you think about the Domino Theory?”

“Like the pizza?”

Laughter erupted.

“Why are you laughing? None of you should be laughing, because none of you know what the Domino Theory is.”

A child raised her hand.

“Yes. Staci.”

“I know what the Domino Theory is.”

“What is it?”

Staci read,The domino theory was a theory prominent from the 1950s to the 1980s, that posited . . .”

“Ok, ok. That’s plenty. Why do you believe the United States enacted a policy of containment? My second question from last night.”

“Acted?”

“Enacted?”

“Is that like “re-enact’?”

“No, just ‘enact.’”

“Oh.”

“Why do you believe the United States followed the policy of containment?”

“Cuz they were behind it?”

“Wait, read that definition of the Domino Theory you have again.”

“Which one?”

“The one you just read.”

“But you didn’t let me finish the first time.”

“Please, read it again, and I’ll let you finish.”

The domino theory was a theory prominent from the 1950s to the 1980s, that posited that if one country in a region came under the influence of communism, then the surrounding countries would follow in a domino effect.”

“Good. So, why do you think the United States wanted to contain the domino effect?”

“That wasn’t one of the questions,” a child shouted.

“What is the policy of containment?” the teacher asked the shouting child.

“The U.S. wanted to contain the spread of the Domino Theory.”

“Exactly! Why?”

The child shrugged.

“Anyone want to answer that?”

Silence. Stares. Sniffle.

“Why did the United States want to stop the Domino Theory from happening?”

“They didn’t like it?” a child stated.

“Ok, why not?”

A child raised his hand.

“Yes, Chris.”

“Cuz the Domino Theory was gonna spread like poison ivy, and the Americans didn’t want poison ivy.”

“Ok, good analogy, but instead of poison ivy, what did the United States not want to spread?”

“Chicken pox?” a child asked.

“Peanut butter? My mom spreads peanut butter,” a child disclosed.

“Wait a second. Hold on. Let’s take a moment.”

There was a pause, and the teacher continued, “Can someone remind us what the United States feared during the Cold War?”

A child raised her hand.

“Tori?”

“China!” she said with excitement.

“Ok, I’ll take that. Why?”

“Cuz they’re takin’ our jobs?” John shouted.

“No, we’re talking about the Cold War.”

“My dad said China’s takin’ our jobs.”

“Ok, that’s fine, but let’s talk about the Cold War.”

“My dad doesn’t think it’s fine that China’s takin’ our jobs.”

“It is a concern, sure . . . for today, perhaps, but we’re talking about the 1950s. So, let me ask again, what did the United States fear during the Cold War?”

“China!” Tori shouted happily.

“But more specifically. What was it about China? Or Russia, for that matter? What did those two countries have in common?”

A child raised his hand.

“Jeremy?”

“Why do all country names end in an ‘a,’ like China, America, Russia?”

“They don’t, ya dummy!” John yelled. “Germany! Spain!” he said, mocking Jeremy.

“John, relax now. We don’t call others ‘dummies’.”

“I said ‘dummy’.”

“Well, we don’t call people that either. Please, apologize to Jeremy.”

“Mr. Milo,” Laura interrupted, “do all countries have a different name for themselves. The Spanish call their country España. Why don’t they just call it Spain?”

“One moment, Rachel. I asked John to apologize to Jeremy.”

“You don’t know the answer, do you?” Laura said.

“I do know the answer. I’m just waiting for an apology. John?”

John mumbled something to Jeremy.

“Good. Fine. Thank you. Let’s watch our respect for others, please. Now, let’s get back to the Domino Theory.”

“You haven’t answered my question, yet,” Laura teased.

“Each country has it’s own language, Laura.”

“So.”

“So, in their own language, they have different names for themselves. They don’t use the English name.”

“Then why does the map up there have all English names.”

“Because the map is in English.”

“What does Russia call itself if they don’t call it Russia?”

“I don’t know, really.”

“See, I knew you didn’t know the answer.”

“Why should we know the answers, if you don’t know the answers?”

“Okay, let’s stop,” the teacher said, “and let’s look up what Russia calls itself.”

Everyone turned to their devices, some to look up the answer, some to check text messages.

“Russians are dyslexic, man.” John shouted.

“They use a different alphabet, John.”

“That’s dumb.”

“John, what did we just talk about?”

“I’m calling the alphabet dumb, not a person.”

“It looks weird,” Staci giggled. Р-O-C-C-and then a backwards ‘N’ and backwards ‘R’.”

“Poker!” a child yelled.

“I’ll poke her!” John muttered.

“Looks like Rossiya,” the teacher said.

“What’s Germany?” a child shouted.

“Deutschland,” informed the teacher.

“How do they get that out of Germany?” Laura asked.

“They don’t say Germany. Their word for their own country, what they have always called themselves, is Deutschland.”

“Well that’s dumb,” John said.

And the class bell rang. The end.

 

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