Thursday, October 06, 2005

Odd teacher moment

I gotta tell ya. The vilde chayas are plenty interesting.

My advanced intermediate ESL class took a test on the first day of Rosh Hashanah, with their substitute teacher. When I came back, of course, I had to correct them.

One of the short-answer questions after a selection of the book in which they read about Diego Rivera's murals, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and Pablo Neruda's gate was this: If you were going to make a memorial, who would it be for? Why? And what would it look like? (These are out of the book, I do not make these suckers up.)

Some of the kids had beautiful answers, some were bad for various reasons. Then I was correcting the test of one of my fairly new-to-the-country Chinese students. Her answer read: I would make a memorial for Robert W. Napier because he was brave and fought in the war.

I look at it and think who? I have never heard of this person. Should I have? I resolve to Google him. I correct the test and move on.

Then I get another one. I would make a memorial for Mark Hambleton, because he was brave and he died in the war.

Who ARE these people? I'm now completely baffled. Both students are Chinese, fairly new in the country. Who are Napier and Hambleton, and how did they learn about them? Why do they care? When the first one came up, I wondered if he was possibly a U.S. officer who served in China during the war, and has been remembered, but TWO of them?

Suddenly, I get a suspicion. I get out their textbook, and turn to the page where the photograph of the Vietname Memorial is. Sure enough, Napier and Hambleton's names are carved on the section of wall closest to the camera, close enough to read.

I HOWLED. We gotta work harder on the idea of application questions, and the whole issue of answers that may not be in the book. But still...


Eliyahu said...

ah, ha! i see detective stories in your past!

Anonymous said...

I suppose given the passage of time the anecdote is humorous. However I knew Hambleton and knew how he died, and thirty two years later contacted his mother and put her in touch with a man who was present at her sons death. I'm saddened you were not curious enough to look up Sgt. Hambleton on the Virtual Wall.

Marc 'Doc' Levy
D 1/7 Cav '70