Based on my experiences to date, I have to say that a bit of my pessimism about the fate/future of Western culture/civilization is being rolled back.
Take the foundational document, er, film, The Sandlot. I made reference to it at one of those periodic moments of exasperation and several students replied, "I love that movie." Warm. Fuzzy.
More seriously, I'm finding that students take an interest in what they're studying, and, when conditions are really good (there's the Mystery of Teaching, namely, what creates or allows for these conditions to emerge? Patent that and send the bill to Bill and Melinda or that facebook fool), we engage in real dialogue.
And despite the negative chatter I read about Common Core, kids are reading actual literature and historical texts, not merely IKEA how to assemble instructions (as "real world" as that kind of learning might be -- but is there really a world-wide shortage of those little Swedish Gnomes who make that furniture? I doubt it)! Examples of texts I've read with students recently:
- Jonathan Edwards, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God"
- Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
Yes, real literature, real language real transmission of a tradition.