Thursday 8 January 2009

the trick of it

The big theme that ran through Series Four of The Wire was education. There was more than one lesson here for environmentalists.

In Series Four the ex-cop Roland "Prez" Pryzbylewski (left) had become a maths teacher at Edward Tilghman Middle School. In the early episodes he struggled to gain any control over his anarchic class. They had no interest in any of the usual maths problems.

One lunch break (in Episode 7) Prez sees his pupils playing cards and rolling dice. Some of them keep losing. Prez goes to the school storeroom and rifles through the old board games and finds some more sets of dice. With those, he teaches his whole class the laws of probability. 'There are only three ways to make a four, but to make a seven ...?'

Another teacher walks in and finds the classroom humming with activity (rolling dice, counting out Monopoly money). She looks impressed. Prez says, 'Trick 'em into thinking they aren't learning, and they do.'

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