By: Adam Sutton
“Class,” Mr. Harrison said as the students talked across the room at one another. “Class,” he tried again. “On three, give me one big clap. ONE. TWO. THREE!” he yelled out followed by one clap in the class of 25.
After a minute of wrangling, the class was mostly attentive. He tried again, “Class, we are going to use our documents…”
“We didn’t look at no documents!” came the chorus of excuses and discontent.
“We have been looking at them for the last 5 days. Remember how we looked at the document that listed all the jobs of the Jamestown settlers?” The looks on the faces around the room indicated they did not remember nor care to remember. “Today is the Thrash Out! The 4 seats in the middle, where no one is sitting right now, will be the only people who can talk…”
“Nah. I ain’t goin no where,” Joe objected.
Susie followed with, “Nope. No way!”
“I’ll need 4 volunteers to come in to the center to talk about how and why James…”
The class groaned and shouted in protest before Mr. Harrison could finish his sentence.
“Mr. Harrison, why are the desks like this today?” Sandra inquired.
Before he could respond, Namond interjected, “It’s that thing we did before. You gotta go in the middle to talk.”
“Oh,” Sandra replied.
With all the students settled in, Mr. Harrison shouted out “On 3 repeat after me!” What followed was an oddly delightful cacophony of claps, stomps and snaps. When Mr. Harrison finished, all eyes were on him. He continued, “Some of you figured out we are doing Thrash Out again. This is your chance to talk about the question we have been studying: How Revolutionary Was the American Revolution? Can anybody remind us how this works?”
“It was dumb,” Jacob reminded the class.
“Perhaps a more positive memory?” Mr. Harrison encouraged the class.
“You gotta go in the middle to talk. Use your document sheets. Mr. Harrison, we didn’t like it before, and we aren’t going to like it again.”
“Ohhhh, Mr. Harrison, it’s another one of these days!” Julie beamed. “I love these things. We get to argue and debate. It’s so much fun!”
“Yea, I got to show Gavin who the boss was last time!” said Jacob gleefully.
“If you can hear me, clap 1 time!” shouted Mr. Harrison. A unified clap rang out across the room, and it was silent.
“Today, is Thrash Out! You are going to get a chance to talk abou…”
“Mr. Harrison!” Gavin interrupted, “Give us the paper, and let us go. We know the rules. Talk in the middle. Write on the outside. Class is only 40 minutes.”
“Ok then. Does anyone have any questions?” Mr. Harrison asked, pausing briefly. “Ok, le…” Before Mr. Harrison could finish his sentence, 6 students were racing to fill the 4 chairs in the center of Room 22.