Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Teaching To The Pest

I hate movies about teaching. 

Maybe being a teacher sours me to depictions of the profession. I'm not the compassionate John Keating standing on my desk to inspire students into sneaking off for late night poetry readings--as if (and I can't help but wonder if this role didn't in some way contribute to Robin Williams' suicide).

I don't fit the caricature that's been foisted on us. I'm more Professor Snapes from the Harry Potter series than I am Mr. Chips. I'm not that patient, nurturing, enthusiastic soul who sees a flicker within a student and tries coaxing the butterfly from the chrysalis.

I can't live up to an ideal that doesn't really fit the reality of classrooms and socio-economic environments and their accompanying cultures. People don't want teachers, they want unit managers, following a corporate model, treating kids alternately as customers and product. Unless its their own child, and then by all means...

And damned, I missed Teacher Appreciation Week again. 

So fellow teachers, I thought I would provide some quotes about the profession. Here's to the end of the school year.

"I had a terrible education. I attended a school for emotionally disturbed teachers."--Woody Allen

"Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school."--Albert Einstein

"I have never let my schooling interfere with my education."--Mark Twain

"The plain fact is that education is itself a form of propaganda - a deliberate scheme to outfit the pupil, not with the capacity to weigh ideas, but with a simple appetite for gulping ideas ready-made. The aim is to make 'good' citizens, which is to say, docile and uninquisitive citizens." -- H.L. Menchen


Anonymous said...

I don't think you're a Snape, Stew; to be a Snape, you'd have to be lusting after the mother of your most annoying students! I kid of course, but in all seriousness you're a lot more inspiring than you seem to think you are.

I was one of your students. Even though I didn't finish at Crossroads, you did help me improve myself as a person, and not just within my own educational realm but as a not-quite-yet adult. You treat people who try and respect you with respect in return - you just don't give it to the people who obviously have none to give in return, and there's nothing wrong with that. It is always hard to want to expend energy on people that do not seem to want to be productive. Even so, for those of us who actually tried to be decent students, you really do make an impact. Before going to crossroads, I didn't feel like I could accomplish anything, but after spending time with someone who actually took the time to treat me like a person and help me, I gained a boatload of confidence which in turn helped me succeed. I finished school and was able to go further than I ever thought possible.

There is no way that I can claim to understand the pressures of being a teacher as I am not one (and, frankly, I think anyone who can deal with teenagers is a Saint) or the requirements and standards that are lain upon you by those that employ you. Regardless of how shit that whole process is, though, I'd like you to know you have made definite differences in some kids. No matter how the system tries to treat us like cattle going from one pen to another to learn arbitrary skills, it always felt (to me, anyhow) that you tried very hard not to do that to people.

In a post you made more recently, you mentioned graduating - I wish you luck in your endeavors. I really hope that things go great for you in all that you do. Write more books, play more vidya' games, sing more songs, watch more films. Do all the things that you deserve to do!


A Student :)

Stewart Sternberg said...

Thank you for your comment. It means a great deal to me.