Wednesday, September 14, 2005

How old is too old?

I haven't been blogging much lately as my mother is visiting and my wife has just returned to work; we are kind of busy at home. I hope I can return to my average of two posts a week soon.

Today I used a typical role-playing game in my third year university classes. In this one, five people are in a balloon that is sinking into a shark-infested ocean. One person must be tossed overboard so the lightened balloon will remain above the water. Who will the unlucky person be?
That is enough of a story. The students could reasonably play themselves and debate who should live. However, to make it more interesting, I made a set of characters. As I made the characters in a hurry, I made changes in each of the three classes. Basically, the characters were:
1) a sick baby
2) an alcoholic woman
3) a thief
4) an old man --this is the important one
5) a 대마초 (hemp or pot) seller.

I commented that the fourth character was the important one and titled this post "How old is too old?" When I made the character 66 years old, three-quarters of the groups fed him to the fish. When I made him 60 years old, only a quarter threw him overboard. At 63, again only a quarter were sacrificed, so I guess the answer lies around 65 years old.

There might be stereotyping involved in my not being surprised about a safety of the alcoholic.

대마초 may be used for recreational purposes but older Koreans (none in my class) might think of it as medicine.


skindleshanks said...

Interesting answers, since the old man is the only one whom you could reasonably expect to be of nearly full mental capacity, and so he would therefore be of extreme value to the survival of the group. In fact, he should be the one making the decision, right?

Reminds me of Steve Taylor (and Chagall Guevera)'s song, "Lifeboat," a very funny song when it was performed live--in drag and falsetto!

skindleshanks said...

Steve Taylor's pretty obscure, so I found the "lyrics."


Teacher: Good morning, class!

Class: Good morning, Mrs. Aryan.

Teacher: Today we're going to play a game!

Class: Yeah!

Teacher: This game is called Lifeboat. All together...

Class: Lifeboat!

Teacher: Good! Lifeboat is a lesson in values clarification. Can you say values clarification?

Class: No.

Teacher: Values clarification is where your little minds decide which lives are worth living and which lives are worth ...ahem... not living. Now here's how we play. A big ship just sank. There are five people on the lifeboat. But the lifeboat is only made for two. I'll list the five people on the chalkboard, and you, class, will decide which three will be thrown overboard. Are we ready?

Class: Yes, Mrs. Aryan.

Teacher: Good! First, there's an old, old crippled grandfather. Second, there's a mentally handicapped person in a wheelchair.

Alison: What's mentally handicapped?

Teacher: It means they can never be a productive members of society. Third, there's an overweight woman on welfare, with a sniffling, whimpering baby.

Max: Is the baby on welfare, too?

Teacher: Let's not push Mrs. Aryan...

Sydney: Who else is in the boat?

Teacher: A young, white doctor with blue eyes and perfect teeth, and Joan Collins. Now, class, take five minutes to make your decision. ... Times up! Well class?

Class: Throw over grandpa 'cause he's getting pretty old
throw out the baby or we'll all be catching it's cold
throw over fatty and we'll see if she can float
throw out the retard, and they won't be rockin' the boat

Teacher: Very good! That was fun, wasn't it?

Class: Yes, Mrs. Aryan.

Teacher: For our next lesson, we're going to do an experiment!

Class: Yeah!

Teacher: We're going to test the law of gravity, just like Galileo, by dropping two objects out the window--one heavy and one light-- to see which one hits the sidewalk first. Now what shall we use for the lighter object? I'm thinking of something small and square...

Class: An eraser?

Teacher: Good! And what shall we use for the heavy object? I'm thinking of something round and bouncy... Tommy, I haven't given you permission to leave your sea...class, the bell has not rung. What are you... oohh! Class...put me down! Put me down this instant! Ooohhh! Ooohhh!

Class: Throw over teacher and we'll see if she can bounce
we've learned our lesson--teacher says perfection's what counts
she's getting old and gray and wears an ugly coat
throw over teacher and we'll play another game of lifeboat
throw over grandpa 'cause he's getting pretty old
throw out the baby, or we'll all be catching it's cold
throw over fatty and we'll see if she can float
throw out the retard, and they won't be rockin' the boat