My 3A class is not always interested in American literature, though my 3B class is usually interested in what we read and what I have to say.
Sometimes I wonder how much this class wants to actually learn anything. Richard, the ring leader in 3A, has a tendency to look at the clock on the wall, slap his knees, and quitely chant, "Ten more minutes...ten more minutes" or "Class is dismissed...class is dismissed." Tired of these antics, about a week ago, I walked over to the clock and pulled it off the wall. The class was quite shocked.
Recently, Richard kept looking at the clock again every 30 seconds, so I took it down again. He said something to the effect of "This is horrible." I quickly responded, "Richard, if you are unfortunate enough to go to hell, surely I will be teaching you American literature for eternity." I thought perhaps he would realize, "Oh, I guess American literature isn't that bad."
Attitude is everything.
One day I told him the story of an experiment in which this Japanesse guy put jars of water into different rooms and said "you are beautiful" to some jars of water and "I hate you" to other jars. To others he played soft music; to others he played heavy metal. After some time, he then photographed them in a crystalized form. The ones to which he said nice things looked nice and the opposite for the others. I then said, "Richard, if you say, 'Class will be interesting today' three times, then class will be interesting."
The next day Richard walked into class and immediately walked back out. I thought for a moment that he would try the experiment. He walked in and said, "Class will be interesting, class will be interesting, class will be interesting." For about a half a second I was proud. Then I heard: "But it won't."
Yes, Richard, for you, class will never be interesting.
Nevertheless, as a student's attitude is everything. I have also learned that a teacher's attitude is everything as well. Each day when Richard says, "Class will be boring," I say, "Class will be interesting for Richard."
A war of wills.
And I win because I can stick pistachios in my beard.