As some of you probably know, I am a high school teacher. Or, a little more accurately, a student-teacher. But that will change at the end of the year when I graduate from university, and hopefully enter the workforce full-time. In order for that to happen, I have to have an interview with the Department of Education and Training, and if they like what they see, they will offer me a placement in a public school (alternatively, I can go through inverviews with private schools, but there is no centralised system). After asking around, I have found that I get rated on three paramaters, in order of importance: my reports from practical experience placements, my portfolio of work to be presented at the interview, and my university grades.
My practical reports have all been really good; my supervisors have all noted that they would be willing to trust me with a full load of classes without any need for supervision or any fear that the students would not meet their outcomes. On the other hand, my university grades have all been fairly average; I’m currently sitting on a credit average. This, however, is the least-important aspect of the interview because grades are based on theory essays, and the application of that theory is far more important than two thousand words on strategies to improve the outcomes of indigenous students.
The area that is causing me a little bit of trouble at the moment is my portfolio. I need to have three units of worked planned out in my chosen subject area, which is English. I currently have two: one for Romeo and Juliet, and another on film, both of which I have taught and both of which have been received really well. But I’m currently a little bit stuck on my third unit, and I’m looking for ideas. Scouring the English syllabus for units that I could do, I have come up with two that potentiall go with. One is on Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. The other is on biographies as a text type.
And this is where everything comes together. I’d really like to do the unit on biographies, using the Senna documentary as one that I would show to my students. There is, however, a slight problem. Several, actually. For one, I have not seen the documentary yet. I am not sure when it comes out in Australia, and when it does, my town is unlikely to get it (we’re not even getting Super 8, thank the stars). But my greater concern is whether or not it would be appropriate. We all know Senna dies in the end; that’s not the issue here. The thing is that I’m a dedicated Formula 1 fan, and while the documentary might have meaning to me, there is a question as to whether or not it would be relevant to my students. When the film premiered at Sundance, I was reading reviews that described eighty year-old women who got so heavily engrossed in the story that they were discussing the finer points of mid-season technical rule changes and how those influenced the action on the circuit. That got me excited about the idea of teaching Senna, but I’m still hesitant because of my being so heavily enmeshed in the world of the sport that my enthusiasm for it might not be reciprocated by my students.
So, do you think Senna would be something that could be taught as an example of a biography to a group of fourteen year-old hormone bombs? Have you had any experiences with anyone who was not a fan of the sport watching the film and responding to it positively? I figure the truest test of this will be showing it to my mother when it comes out on DVD; she can’t stand motorsport because of the sounds. But until then, you guys are my best resource.
And if I do run with it, I will totally use Keith’s articles on The Making of Senna as a refernce point for students.