I just gave all of my classes course evals. This is something college students and instructors are intimately familiar with, I am sure, and though I did do it last year, not every high school implements them. My school this year encourages course evals though, and I love that since I’ve always found them productive.
My favorite part of the eval process is always reading student responses to the “general comments” sections. Surprisingly, MANY 10th grade students wrote about the class parties we’d had. My first party was carrying on a school tradition—throwing a Mead Hall after reading Beowulf. I found a non-alcoholic mead recipe online (basically apple juice and a TON of honey), and then to drive home the point that the early Anglo-Saxons didn’t eat well I served rye bread, carrots, and apples. So as you can tell, the food wasn’t the best. I followed that up with a “Chaucer” party, with pieces of rotisserie chicken (I made them pull it apart—have to be authentic here), root beer, and more carrots and apples. So besides the drink, again not the world’s best food.
Now back to the evals: over and over again, students wrote “Bring more carrots,” “We loved the carrots,” and just “Carrots.” So apparently I teach a bunch of rabbits. On a serious note, I’m glad this element of class had an impact. I don’t remember everything about my own high school English career, and these students might be in the same boat as me in their thirties. But if later they still remember that centuries of people before them basically just ate vegetables, I will have partially done my job as a humanities instructor.
And future note: double the classroom carrot allotment.
–Jeff and Leah