Monday, August 13, 2018
I Wonder Why No One Comes to My Book Club
I have fabulous snacks. I provide a great spread of exotic cheese and scrumptious finger foods, tiny little shrimp puffs and the traditional Southern cheese straw. There are monogrammed cocktail napkins and enough chardonnay to appease the average middle-aged housewife.
But everyone has stopped coming.
When we were deciding which book to read, Sharon suggested we read Love in the Time of Cholera. While this is indeed a love story of astonishing power, I felt it might be above the group's reading and comprehension level. I didn't want the ladies to try anything too challenging, so I handed out Dear John, by Nicholas Sparks. That one is definitely within the group's abilities. Who cares if no one has any desire to read it?
Before we got started, I passed out highlighters, a vocabulary list, and a thick packet of worksheets. Some of it was busy work (there was at least one mind-numbing, time-sucking word search), but most of it was designed to prepare them for the all-powerful, super-important, state-mandated test.
I informed them the packet must be completed before the next meeting if they wanted a good grade. Don't make me call your mother to find out why you're being belligerent, Sharon.
At the start of the meeting, I passed out a quick vocabulary test. Then everyone wrote a short synopsis of what they had just read. I made several people read theirs in front of the group.
Then, I made sure to do most of the talking, lecturing at the front of the room. I asked mundane questions about character names and general action and setting. I made sure to call on the people who didn't raise their hands, putting them on the spot. Shame is a great motivator to participation.
I brought out the points I thought the students, er... I mean book club members should know. I made sure each person viewed the book through my values and life experience, instead of filtering it through their own thoughts, values, and reality.
What do you mean you don't know, Sharon? Didn't you read the book? This question would be easy if you had done your homework. I'm so disappointed, Sharon. Can someone who actually read the book please answer the question for Sharon?
At the end of the "discussion," after I told them what the book was really about and made sure they knew exactly what to think, I passed out bubble sheets and number two pencils for the required content retention test. I made sure there was only one "right" answer to the test questions and the required three paragraph essay.
Everyone who passed got to go to the kitchen for my fabulous snacks.
The members who didn't pass went to the living room for mandatory remediation to prepare for the retest. (That means you, Sharon. Are you even trying?).
Those who passed the retest only got half the snacks as those who passed on the first try. Those who didn't pass, well... they had to reread the book and repeat book club again next year.
And yet... not one single person appreciates my efforts. It's like they don't even enjoy reading.