the trouble with fun

here’s an email i had waiting for me one morning…

[the names have been changed to protect the innocent]

hello mr. dettmann,

my son, jeremy, is in your afternoon criminal justice class. he is really enjoying it. i’m sending this email because i’m concerned about why he is enjoying it and i’m not getting a very clear picture from my son.  the reason for my concern is i have heard from more than 1 person (a parent and then a student, the 2 are not related) “all the students do is watch movies in criminal justice”.  i know there is another class in the morning, so this could be a reflection on that class not yours. with that being said, could you please provide me with your syllabus and/or an overview of your class? i have asked jeremy about it, he says movies are used but not all the time. i’m not satisfied with what I’m hearing. i’m trying to gain some understanding of what the reality is in this class. the registration booklet doesn’t mention the use of movies as a teaching tool. while i can appreciate movies being helpful and enjoyable, i don’t think they paint a very real picture for the students.

thank you for taking the time to respond.

mrs. smith

what i really wanted to write back and say was…

dear mrs. smith,

not only do we watch movies…but, we also play games, tell stories and go on scavenger hunts during class time!

oh and why don’t you…kiss my ass, bitch?!


mr. dettmann 


but, i didn’t write back in anger and say those things…i wrote back and asked her to take a look at her son’s notebook…because every week we take “several days worth of notes”, take quizzes, complete a variety of assignments, read articles and book excerpts, hear from guest speakers (in the field of criminal justice), have discussions and debates, and think critically about the world at large…oh and we also watch movies, play games and go on scavenger hunts, too…i listed every single thing we did for the weeks leading up to and following her email…no hiding, no hesitation–and no apologies…straight up, man…

at the end of the email, i also reminded her that my class was an elective…and with that, i explained that the students can learn something and have fun doing itat the same time (go figure?!)…and, more importantly, i told her that her son was in my class because he chose to take it…and if he wasn’t happy with the class, he could opt out of it next semester…

she went quiet after that…

and her son came back to my class the following semester…

who knew “fun” could be such a problem?!

2 responses

  1. David,

    Just be glad you don’t coach baseball too! They don’t just write letters…. they actually throw things and physically assault people! But then…. I suppose you could use that “crime” in your class!

    Best Wishes!



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