Why myth matters
Some of my students think of myths merely as wild, entertaining stories, like ancient horror movies. They’re shocked and titillated at incestuous unions (siblings Zeus and Hera), parents devouring their children (Cronos), children dismembering their grandparents (Marduk and Tiamat), dead wives appearing to living husbands in a horrifying state of maggoty decomposition (Izanami and Izanagi). “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” has nothing—nothing—on ancient mythology. Horror movies, though, don’t last. What was shocking 30 years ago seems tame today. Bela Lugosi’s “Dracula” seems quaint now, inspiring chuckles more than fear. But the ancient myths stick…Read more »
Dyscalculia: a teacher with a learning disability
At the ripe old age of 52, I discovered that although I may be lazy and careless in many aspects of my life (e.g. my lawn and desk), I wasn’t at fault in one particular way I’d always believed I was. I figured out that I have a learning disability and have apparently felt its effects for my entire life. I’d always known that I was bad at numbers, but three years ago, while sitting around waiting for a staff meeting to begin, I asked Juan, a colleague in Special Ed, if there…Read more »
Telling my truth
My truth right now is that I’m getting depressed as hell at all the shit my students have gone through in just the first semester of school. In the schools where I taught before, there were suicides, arrests, and students being abused at home, but they were few and far between. This year, it’s been an avalanche and it’s making my life feel really heavy and sad. A kid was murdered; Cristobal and Lisa were arrested and are going to be tried in adult court. More than one student at my school is…Read more »
Satire is everywhere
Students text memes to each other under the table during your class. Instead of doing their schoolwork, they laugh at Facebook videos making fun of hipsters or old people (you know, people over 25). They watch Saturday Night Live. They watch South Park re-runs and streaming series like The Tick. They laugh and they laugh. They’re enjoying satire. They just don’t know that’s what it’s called. That’s where you come in. I used to teach satire as a supporting lesson after the class read Orwell’s Animal Farm. If I could go back in…Read more »
School vouchers: a bad deal
My wife and I love to eat out. It’s our favorite thing to do on a Friday night. But eating out is expensive, and I’m not one of those guys who doesn’t have to look at the prices when he orders. When I get a coupon for a restaurant I want to try, it always seems like there are restrictions that make it so I can’t actually use it. It doesn’t apply on Fridays or Saturdays. Or it applies only to a prix fixe menu that doesn’t include the dish the restaurant is…Read more »
Are “protagonist” and “main character” synonymous?
My characterization video makes a statement that some people will think is incorrect. I say that the protagonist is “the good guy,” as opposed to the antagonist, who is “the bad guy.” This is an oversimplification of the sort that teachers often use when introducing complex concepts to young people. The kids get the gist quickly and can be taught the finer points as they try to use the terms. I go on in the video to say that not all main characters are protagonists. And that’s where some viewers will protest. In…Read more »
Welcome to mistersato411.com!
Welcome! Aloha! My shiny new website (mistersato411.com) features all the videos from my YouTube channel. The videos are organized into six categories: Essay Composition, Literature, Poetry Writing, Other Writing Assignments, Fiction Elements, and Grammar. At least for the moment, the videos will be available both here and on YouTube. The primary reason for the website is to give more people access to the videos. A lot of schools block YouTube because for some mysterious reason, students would rather watch skateboarding fails and funny cat videos than pay attention to their teachers’ instruction, and…Read more »
The advantages to teaching in an alternative school
My students are the ones who weren’t successful in regular school. They sat in the back, plugged in their earbuds while you were talking to them, socialized at inappropriate times, got written up, got into fights, brought drugs to school or got high at lunch and came back for afternoon classes red-eyed and stinking of weed. You’re a teacher too, so you know the ones I’m talking about. You have a lot of students to teach and in your secret heart of hearts were probably not sorry to see these troublemakers transferred out.…Read more »
I quit my last teaching job because of a corporate curriculum
Two years ago, I sent this final email to my colleagues at a suburban high school near Seattle. The curriculum I’m blasting is SpringBoard, a product of College Board. As many of you know, I resigned from S******** exactly two weeks ago, and Bill graciously accepted my resignation. I’ve still been in the saddle because HR asked me to stay to help ease the transition. Last night, I was told that today is my last day. So, starting next Monday, I will be teaching alternative ed in the Seattle School District. Those of…Read more »
Why I don’t say the word, “karate”
I don’t like the word “karate.” There’s nothing wrong with the word itself, or the martial art; it’s speaking the word that makes me uncomfortable, like I’m sitting on a sharp edge of my cell phone. If I say it the correct way, the Japanese way, I sound pretentious. If I say it the way people in America say it, it grates on my ear. I saw an old Italian man in a documentary pronounce it in a way that was much closer to the original pronunciation yet still very Italian: ka-ra-dé. As…Read more »
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