Teaching fourth grade with style.
This week’s story in our basal reader is about bullfighting. It’s the last story in a pretty droll theme we’ve been working on for six weeks now - “From Mystery to Medicine.” The story talks about a famous bullfighter’s son who accompanies a doctor to help tend to another bullfighter’s wound.
Neither the kids or myself have been too invested in the stories in this unit, but this one had a lesson I could actually get behind - the bullfighters’ honor led them back into the ring time and time again despite it always ending in harm. The son decided he wanted to become a doctor instead.
I have twice as many boys as girls in my class and they are at the age where honor seems to be everything - though it usually manifests itself in calling out each others’ moms. With some scaffolding, we discussed the violence and defensiveness in their own lives and how, just like the bullfighters, they always end up worse off in the end.
I was really proud of them!
But then, two of my students who had been bugging each other all day got out to their lockers to get ready to go home. I turn away for a moment and they’re at each others’ throats. I break up the fight, take them back in the classroom, and after a few minutes of trying to mediate to no avail, end up telling them to think back to the bullfighter who kept going back in the ring and getting hurt. Do they want to be like him? Do they want their sense of honor to take precedence over their entire futures? I wrap up with the necessary disciplinary steps, but leave feeling like I did the right thing.
Our basal tries to help us teach them the skill of “making connections.” This is the first time in such a long time that I felt my students had a story they could relate to without having to make stretch.
Who knew it would be about a bullfighter?