Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The White Boy Shuffle

This is a call for any ideas, thoughts, or lesson/unit plans about teaching Paul Beatty's The White Boy Shuffle.

I was really excited, but now I'm getting cold feet. It pushes the bounds of high school curriculum more than any book I've ever taught except for perhaps The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (which of course has the 'classic' label... and no F-bombs). I think the kids deserve to read a literate and raucous modern satire on race, especially after hearing the same thing from the white perspective in the 10th grade with Huck. It's a superb book, highly-praised and poetic. The kids will love it and get a whole lot out of it. But I want to know if anyone else has tried this. Please email or post. I've gotten one google hit already earlier from "teaching The White Boy Shuffle", and this is a blatant attempt at more. And some help.

It's set for March/April, so we've got plenty of time.


Anonymous said...

Here's a resource I found googling white boy shuffle lesson


Hope it helps. A BCPS Mom

Anonymous said...

Perhaps what should be examined, as a reflective teacher, is your "cold feet."

you say the kids "deserve" this.

you imply that an analysis of race--even in its contained form as "satire"---pushes the very bounds of the high school curriculum.

this in your highly segregated classroom and at your very, comparatively, privileged high school (despite how you rep your blog with ghetto-life "WIRE" images (does that make you feel authentic?) in the segregated system in which you teach.

white boy shuffle---ain't that what yous doin all the time? ain't you just trying to be a good teacher--now--by making it real?

do the right thing.

Teach Baltimore said...

Are you implying that because I teach in a segregated classroom in a segregated school system, that the students should not be examining issues of race? Especially when they have already examined similar issues from a white perspective the previous year, with Huck Finn? You never really got to your point.

My "cold feet" is not about the examination of race, but because of language, and not even "the" word - after all, Huck Finn, which uses it 235 times from a white perspective, is in the 10th grade curriculum. It has to do with other language, plus a lot of cultural and historical references that I think the kids will have a hard time wrapping their heads around.

That being said, in my conversations with students I've read the book with, and during that summer in summer school where we lit circled it, this is a book that the kids at my school connect with. It's all about DuBois's concept of "twoness," something they get.

And if you think I teach in a "very privileged" high school, then, well, you just have it wrong. I haven't hid the fact that I teach in a magnet school (it's even a category, to the right), and feel no need to make myself feel "authentic." I love The Wire. It examines education and situations that are very familiar to me; I have had homeless students and dealer students and addict students and students without parents and students with no self-control. I even taught with the man who created the television show and created the storyline for the 4th season, and he presumably garnered inspiration from this very school where I teach. That's where the photo comes from. I don't really understand your snide tone here. I'm not trying to be something I'm not; I didn't put up a shot from Hard Times at Douglass High nor do I purport to teach there.

Anonymous said...

The students deserve to read and be taught about this book! Students will identify with it a lot more than the clinical, accepted high school curriculum. They'll be interested, and therefore get more out of it. Be blunt, enjoy the humor, and don't shy away from "F-bombs"; you know the students won't! Allowing them to read this and be open will make them more comfortable and eager learners! They will gain a lot more being interested and learning about race and history (include a brief timeline when the photos of the classroom at Gunnar's new school are being described) and a bit of history when Gunnar is describing his family.