Discussion for Episode 6: the Substitute

General discussion about the nineteen episodes of "My So-Called Life". Note: Our episode guide can be found here.
User avatar
Natasha (candygirl)
MSCL.com Team
MSCL.com Team
Posts: 5374
Joined: Dec 7th 2001, 3:05 am
Location: California

Post by Natasha (candygirl) » Feb 17th 2003, 11:05 pm

I think your experience is similar to the message in movies like Stand and Deliver, Lean on Me, Dead Poets Society, etc. which is that students who may seem to be mediocre can excel if they are challenged and pushed. Kids need discipline and boundaries, which is almost unheard of in a time where it seems like the educators' priorities are to bend over backwards to validate the students' feelings and giving a gentleman's C rather than teaching the curriculum or telling a student that their work simply isn't up to par.

As we saw in the pilot, most of the students are content to let Brian answer all the teachers' questions so that they can sleep, doodle, stare at the walls, or daydream. Teachers like Vic don't allow students to hide in the back row or get away with "I don't know." Many students who are B or C students will rise to the occassion and really excel when a teacher doesn't let them slide by with half-assed answers/homework/papers.

I know that in college I always got better grades in my seminar classes because I knew that the teacher knew my name and would eventually expect me to contribute to the discussion since there were only 10 people in the class. That meant I had to do the reading and think about what was going on and pay attention while other people talked. In contrast, I zoned out a lot in my big lecture classes because I knew that the chances of me being picked out of 100-500 people wasn't likely. I'm lazy that way.

:D
Natasha aka candygirl :: MSCL.com

Look, if this is weird for you, being tutored? I don't mind helping you a little longer.
You could have sex with me if you really want to help...I guess that's a "no"?

likelife
Liberty High Student
Posts: 116
Joined: Jun 4th 2002, 7:45 pm
Location: new yorker in florida! help!

Post by likelife » Feb 17th 2003, 11:08 pm

about the sixties....
one of my parents was born in '48 and one in '51. they are were both serious hippies. sure, they may not have been draft-age during the war protests, but may mom (born in '48) recalls holding martin luther king's hand during a march. she also witnessed a black panther related murder in a grocery store somewhere in california. both of them retained their hippie sensibilities during the reagan years and if you asked them, they would refer to "the sixties" as when all of this stuff went on. true, for them, they were teenagers in the sixties... but if you think about what angela is going through, isn't 15 just about the age when you start formulating some serious opinions of your own?
this "timeline" problem of patty and graham has never really bothered me. they were 18 in '68. that means they could have been at woodstock, they would have listened to dylan, the dead, the beatles, joni mitchell, etc. and they would have known all about civil rights issues, even if legislature had already been passed.

likelife
Liberty High Student
Posts: 116
Joined: Jun 4th 2002, 7:45 pm
Location: new yorker in florida! help!

Post by likelife » Feb 17th 2003, 11:16 pm

i agree that vic shakes thing up a bit by calling on kids in the back and not putting up with mediocre work. he is hoping that by ruffling everyone's feathers, he makes the kids who have something to say feel more inclined to say it and to say it well.
in defense of other teachers, at liberty, though.... vic has the advantage of being NEW to liberty. he has not been bogged down by paperwork yet, he has NO LIFE to speak of, so when he does have work he has plenty of time to do it. i think the WAY in which he stimulates the class is destined to be short-lived. sure, he challenges their opinions and their laziness, but i'd argue that he has nowhere near the staying power of katimsky (or even mayhew, as awful as she may seem!).
we know from his past that he runs away from his problems. how long does it take him to run away from liberty?
he certainly has some dictator-like qualities. lots of charisma, lots of fancy talk, but little or no serious action. he does not stay around to defend free speech. he does not stay around to make sure that jordan gets a tutor. he does not even take the time to memorize angela's name.

likelife
Liberty High Student
Posts: 116
Joined: Jun 4th 2002, 7:45 pm
Location: new yorker in florida! help!

Post by likelife » Feb 17th 2003, 11:18 pm

ah! correction! i meant that patty and graham were 14 in '68, not 18! sorry! what i meant there is that 14/15 yr olds can sneak off to concerts. they can have sit-ins at their high schools, and they certainly have older siblings/friends who were prob. draft age.

User avatar
Megs
Lifehead
Posts: 1185
Joined: Jun 30th 2002, 11:35 am
Location: NOVA
Contact:

Post by Megs » Feb 17th 2003, 11:37 pm

Why do Graham's suits never fit right? They are always too baggy, too long in the arms. What does this say? That his position doesn't "fit" him?
"I have all these dreams where I know exactly what to say. And you tell me, you know, that you forgive me."

User avatar
TomSpeed
Marshall Wannabe
Posts: 1226
Joined: Jan 13th 2003, 3:37 pm
Location: Tampa, FL, USA
Contact:

Post by TomSpeed » Feb 17th 2003, 11:44 pm

I think Vic calls Angela Amanda on purpose. Or, his wife's name could be Amanda. If it's on purpose, he is probably trying to dissuade her from having an idealistic view of him. In some way, he probably knows he is a failure. Many of the things he says, like when he tells her to drop out of school, he doesn't really believe. He's just throwing things out there, then he adds, "or not." I think he probably thinks about his wife and children all of the time. So either explanation could be plausible. I don't think he would not know Angela's name since he taught her for a couple weeks or so.

I think it is terrible that a father won't support his children even if the he gets divorced. Who knows the real story of why he left his family? His saying that he escaped is kind of a throwaway thing. Should he really talk to Angela about why he left his wife and children? Can there be any good reason to not support his kids? Anything he says will not be a good explanation.
TomSpeed

Patty: If Rayanne's not seeing you, and we're not seeing you, who is seeing you?
Graham: And how much of you?
Angela: Dad!
Graham: Oh, I'm sorry! I asked a question about your life, didn't I? Woah, what came over me?
http://www.last.fm/user/TomSpeed/

User avatar
Megs
Lifehead
Posts: 1185
Joined: Jun 30th 2002, 11:35 am
Location: NOVA
Contact:

Post by Megs » Feb 17th 2003, 11:53 pm

I disagree. I really don't think that he knew her name.
"I have all these dreams where I know exactly what to say. And you tell me, you know, that you forgive me."

likelife
Liberty High Student
Posts: 116
Joined: Jun 4th 2002, 7:45 pm
Location: new yorker in florida! help!

Post by likelife » Feb 17th 2003, 11:53 pm

why doesn't foster suspend angela?

okay, i do not know about you guys, but my high school (granted, i grew up in a very liberal city) published a lit magazine with all sorts of stuff in it about sex and drugs and whatever kids wanted to write about. the entries were all overseen by a teacher who served as one of the editors of the mag, but as long as there wasn't a hateful message in someone's writing, it usually got published eventually. what do you all think?

i think foster chooses not to suspend angela for several reasons. first of all, angela is a good kid and he wants as many of those as possible at liberty. he gets her hating school and feeling like she was treated like a second-class citizen and then she drops out or something like that. also, i think he realizes that free speech in a lit magazine is a perfectly reasonable thing to be fighting for. he simply does not want to deal with the angry parents and the bad publicity that would abound if something so controvercial was printed and given out by the school. if he lets her give out the lit, then he gets bad press, if he suspends her, then he gets bad press for suppressing free speech. if he does nothing, but insists that the lit be done away with, then he squelches the fire before it spreads. i believe that this is somewhat of a cowardly stance to take, and yet i see why he does it.

User avatar
Natasha (candygirl)
MSCL.com Team
MSCL.com Team
Posts: 5374
Joined: Dec 7th 2001, 3:05 am
Location: California

Post by Natasha (candygirl) » Feb 17th 2003, 11:59 pm

likelife wrote:this "timeline" problem of patty and graham has never really bothered me. they were 18 in '68. that means they could have been at woodstock, they would have listened to dylan, the dead, the beatles, joni mitchell, etc. and they would have known all about civil rights issues, even if legislature had already been passed.
I am pretty sure that Patty and Graham were younger than 18 in 1968 - in the next episode (Why Jordan Can't Read), Camille tells Patty, "We're 40!" and in "Strangers in the House," Angela tells Danielle, "They're all the same age" (referring to Patty, Camille, Graham, and Andy). If they were 40 in 1994, then they were born in 1954 (give or take a year, depending on what month they were born) so they were 14 in 1968.

In Father Figures, Graham says that he first saw the Grateful Dead when he was 15 but the Dead only played the West Coast (mostly California) from their formation in 1965 until they played New York in June 1967. It doesn't seem likely that Graham's parents would let him travel from Pittsburgh to the West Coast at such a young age, so the first time he could have possibly seen them was when the Dead played in New York in June 1967. It's more likely that he saw them when they played Philadelphia in December 1968. This would fit the timeline of Graham being born around 1954.
Natasha aka candygirl :: MSCL.com

Look, if this is weird for you, being tutored? I don't mind helping you a little longer.
You could have sex with me if you really want to help...I guess that's a "no"?

JPP13
Angela's best friend
Posts: 246
Joined: Oct 6th 2002, 3:10 pm

Post by JPP13 » Feb 18th 2003, 12:03 am

Not that this is either right or good, but in real life if the school or the principal had suspended a student for something such as the Lit, there would be an immediate lawsuit.

Here's one example, of many:

December 19, 2001

MINNESOTA -- Five eighth-grade students who were punished for creating an underground 'zine are planning to file a lawsuit against Ogilvie Public Schools.

Administrators took issue with some contents of the publication after two students complained, said Chuck Samuelson, executive director of the Minnesota Civil Liberties Union. The magazine contained statements criticizing the two students -- one for disruptive behavior in choir class and another for poor play on the volleyball team.

The publication also included a poll for students to choose their favorite "hottie" eighth-grade boy, in which the first names of 11 boys were used and a space was provided to write in other choices. According to an article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the school has cited the poll, along with other content, as violations of the district's sexual harassment policy. The publication also poked fun at blondes and included a number of short quotes.

One quote, "A man is a king, a king is a ruler, a ruler is 12 inches, Still think your [sic] a man??" drew the attention of school officials. But Cheryl Braddock, a parent of one the girls who was punished, said the quote was so obscure that administrators interpreted it differently than the students had intended.

About 20 copies of the publication were distributed in September.

The Minnesota Civil Liberties Union has agreed to represent the students, who are 13 years old. Samuelson said the lawsuit would focus on the school's censorship of the publication and a lack of due process after the punishments were handed down.

After administrators confiscated the magazine, the girls were not allowed to participate in two weeks of volleyball games and they could not act in the opening night of the school play. Prior to the punishment, the students apologized for their actions, Samuelson said.

Samuelson said he is in consultation with attorneys in Minnesota to find representation for the girls and their parents.

likelife
Liberty High Student
Posts: 116
Joined: Jun 4th 2002, 7:45 pm
Location: new yorker in florida! help!

Post by likelife » Feb 18th 2003, 12:04 am

megs/tomspeed:

i think that vic does not know angela's name. i am not saying that this shows the definitively LOW level of person that he is.... but it does show that making a true connection with his students is not one of his priorities.

i agree that he tosses those suggestions out about dropping out and heroine without really thinking.... or at least knowing that they will not be taken seriously....

okay, here's a thought that i just had:
you know how you said that vic is a smoker, tomspeed? he OBVIOUSLY has an oral fixation and he is very hyperactive and jumpy all of the time. what if his real problem is that he;s a drug addict of sorts? i am not saying this because of the heroine line specifically, so do not think i am just being literal. think about it. he's smart and quick but can't seem to hold a job. he;s left his family because he's sure that they are better without him. he's irritable, jumpy, and secretive. if he truly believes that his wife and kids are better off without him, he'd still be trying to help support them unless something else was going on. he left to spare them from his addiction, but he can't pull it together enough to earn any money to send home. what do you all think? i am only sort of serious about this...

likelife
Liberty High Student
Posts: 116
Joined: Jun 4th 2002, 7:45 pm
Location: new yorker in florida! help!

Post by likelife » Feb 18th 2003, 12:07 am

candygirl -
i already fixed my mistake! sorry for the confusion!

User avatar
Natasha (candygirl)
MSCL.com Team
MSCL.com Team
Posts: 5374
Joined: Dec 7th 2001, 3:05 am
Location: California

Post by Natasha (candygirl) » Feb 18th 2003, 12:30 am

Oops, sorry - I hit reply after I read your post but didn't read your addendum until just now!

:D
Natasha aka candygirl :: MSCL.com

Look, if this is weird for you, being tutored? I don't mind helping you a little longer.
You could have sex with me if you really want to help...I guess that's a "no"?

User avatar
TomSpeed
Marshall Wannabe
Posts: 1226
Joined: Jan 13th 2003, 3:37 pm
Location: Tampa, FL, USA
Contact:

Post by TomSpeed » Feb 18th 2003, 10:37 am

likelife wrote:megs/tomspeed:

i think that vic does not know angela's name. i am not saying that this shows the definitively LOW level of person that he is.... but it does show that making a true connection with his students is not one of his priorities.

i agree that he tosses those suggestions out about dropping out and heroine without really thinking.... or at least knowing that they will not be taken seriously....

okay, here's a thought that i just had:
you know how you said that vic is a smoker, tomspeed? he OBVIOUSLY has an oral fixation and he is very hyperactive and jumpy all of the time. what if his real problem is that he;s a drug addict of sorts? i am not saying this because of the heroine line specifically, so do not think i am just being literal. think about it. he's smart and quick but can't seem to hold a job. he;s left his family because he's sure that they are better without him. he's irritable, jumpy, and secretive. if he truly believes that his wife and kids are better off without him, he'd still be trying to help support them unless something else was going on. he left to spare them from his addiction, but he can't pull it together enough to earn any money to send home. what do you all think? i am only sort of serious about this...
Something has caused Vic to exhibit obsessive-compulsive behavior. As a smoker, I'm probably projecting myself a little bit. Plus, I've observed friends who have quit smoking. Usually, an ex-smoker chews gum or eats a lot of snacks to replace cigarettes. One woman I knew ate a lot of apples. So, toothpicks make sense to me. Vic appears to be a recovering drug addict (nicotine is a drug after all). Could it be heroine? Maybe.

Where is Vic going after he drops Angela off at home? He seems to have packed his car. I'd like to think he is going back to face his responsibilities.
In some way, I think Angela's "A Fable " touched him. He had created a gingerbread house of his own by fleeing his family.
TomSpeed

Patty: If Rayanne's not seeing you, and we're not seeing you, who is seeing you?
Graham: And how much of you?
Angela: Dad!
Graham: Oh, I'm sorry! I asked a question about your life, didn't I? Woah, what came over me?
http://www.last.fm/user/TomSpeed/

User avatar
TomSpeed
Marshall Wannabe
Posts: 1226
Joined: Jan 13th 2003, 3:37 pm
Location: Tampa, FL, USA
Contact:

Post by TomSpeed » Feb 18th 2003, 11:17 am

JPP13 wrote:Not that this is either right or good, but in real life if the school or the principal had suspended a student for something such as the Lit, there would be an immediate lawsuit.
You are right. Principals and school districts have been sued over less. Not all suits are successful. But enough are to make a principal think twice about suspending students. The proliferation of lawsuits is one of the things that's wrong with schools today.

I am surprised that Foster says he will suspend students when he probably knows suspending students wouldn't solve the problem. Confiscate the remaining copies. That's acceptable. He will still probably get sued. Showing his teeth and refusing to bite isn't a good idea. He should not have shown his teeth in the first place. Maybe he was just angry and made a mistake?
TomSpeed

Patty: If Rayanne's not seeing you, and we're not seeing you, who is seeing you?
Graham: And how much of you?
Angela: Dad!
Graham: Oh, I'm sorry! I asked a question about your life, didn't I? Woah, what came over me?
http://www.last.fm/user/TomSpeed/

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests