Today was my first day as a substitute teacher with Boise Public Schools. I was lucky to land a gig teaching high school English at Frank Church High. Not only that, but I was teaching New Journalism! As you can see on the board I decided to play along after the front office printed me a name tag reading, “Mr. Gavin.”
In all three classes, we finished viewing a DVD of In Cold Blood, the film released in 1967, based on the book by Truman Capote. And then I had the opportunity to talk to the class about New Journalism, mixing newspaper reporting and fiction techniques to build a compelling narrative that informs about real life.
We started into the first paragraph of John Hersey’s Hiroshima, which was published in the New Yorker one year after President Truman ordered the dropping of the atomic bomb. Between Hiroshima and Nagasaki, more than 200,000 people were killed, according to the Literature textbook in the class. Unfortunately they have no plans to read more tonight about four Japanese civilians who survived the atomic bomb.
I’ve never heard of such a thing, but Frank Church High in Boise is a “no-homework” school, so hopefully Ms. Fretwell will take up where I left off on Tuesday. I’m sure I won’t have this much fun every time I sub, but I liked the challenge, even though I can’t believe how removed the students seemed from their own educations. I could barely get them to watch the murder scene in the movie, let alone sit still and listen while I was instructing. Then again, I couldn’t sit still when I was 16. I didn’t tell the students I make radio shows for Boise Community Radio and go by the name Radioactive Gavin. I did mention (in context) that I write for Boise Weekly and was impressed that almost every single student seemed aware of the hip little alterna-paper.