Clue-by-Four: Ramblings of a Jock Dork

Ode to Black Swan: From the Frontlines of Modern Education

Posted in Clue x Fours and Other Tools of Sanity by Wingnut on January 25, 2011

Q: You just don’t get it, do you, Jean-Luc? The trial never ends. We wanted to see if you had the ability to expand your mind and your horizons. And for one brief moment, you did.
Capt. Picard: When I realized the paradox.
Q: Exactly. For that one fraction of a second, you were open to options you had never considered. *That* is the exploration that awaits you. Not mapping stars and studying nebulae, but charting the unknown possibilities of existence.

In the final episode of Star Trek the Next Generation “All Good Things…”, Q decides to spare humanity because, for a fleeting second, Captain Picard opened his mind to the possibilities of the universe. His synapses fired for a moment as he contemplated and realized the paradox, saving the universe from unraveling.

Q understood that to truly evolve as a species, beings must be open to and constantly searching for new paradigms and adapting the current one to meet the needs of this new information. [Yes, I said beings. Captain Picard doesn’t exist, as much as Sheldon1 would like him to]. For humans and cartoon characters [Remember folks, not dealing in reality just yet], this is also known as the light bulb, facepalm, fucking duh, “Eureka!” moment.

Stańczyk by Jan Matejko.

As a teacher, there is something profoundly amazing watching a teenager, hampered by hormones2, peer pressure3, and academic stress4, have that momentary shift into a new paradigm. It’s that exciting moment when you can actually see the opening of new areas of the brain as if in some quasi-House close up of “what is really wrong.5” Nowhere is this more common than the year of the “Wise Fool”, otherwise known as sophomore.

[Note: I am using the modernized etymology of the word from “Sophos” and “Moros”. It serves my purpose. For the truly pretentious, see the footnote for original origins. Oh and PLTTTTTT Mr. Smarty Pants]6.

No longer the deer-in-the-headlights freshmen and not yet mature enough to be upper classman, sophomores floats in a year of uncertainty, year of confusion, year of discovery, year of exploration, and year of direction7. It is the year they go from dumb kid to slightly less-dumb teen [trust me, it’s progress].

Let me give you an example from just a couple weeks ago.

We were discussing reality vs. perception and semantics [I can’t remember the exact conversation]. As an illustration of what we were talking about, the names of movies like The Matrix and Inception came up and we hotly debated what is real and what isn’t.

To my surprise, Black Swan entered the discussion. A few students had seen it and wanted to add their contributions to the discussion. Since I don’t teach in a socio-economic area where young men see movies about ballerinas [I am aware of what the movie is really about. To a teen boy however…], it came as a shock when one the boys shouted out, “Oh my God. I so want to see that movie.”

You know those moments when time seems to freeze after something is said? This was one of those moments.

I was truly stunned. This student, who has been suspended for inappropriate sweatshirts, tearing up referrals, and complaining in class constantly that he “doesn’t know” something, was actually admitting to wanting a little something more [Mind you his test scores are some of the best in the class, so he is obviously lying when he says “I don’t know”]. This student for whom knuckleheadery was almost a daily occurrence was finally ready.

It was happening. The light bulb had clicked on and he was finally ready to shuffle of the freshman coil and step out of the darkness.  I was speechless, both with the pride of a successful mentor and guilt over having so sharply underestimated him. I was…

And that’s when he said it:

“That’s that movie about lesbians right?”


Did I mention this is a long process?

To be fair, we all know this is what got most men to go see this movie


  1. Big Bang Theory
  2. Sex permeates every though and action of the average teen. It’s almost a disability because it hampers every other aspect of their life.
  3. To have sex [with drinking and drugs mixed in for good measure]
  4. Because it takes away from their thinking about sex
  5. Have you ever noticed that house is great for raising awareness of random illnesses by inventing deadly symptoms that are in no way, shape, or form related to the “real-life” illness.
  6. Since you must know, click on this. Oh and PLLLTTTTTTTTT
  7. And the aforementioned year of sex.