Ok. I'm gonna take a cue. Complaining isn't my forte. The only times I've received negative comments on this blog is when I complain. So I'm just gonna spit what I see and feel and hopefully it makes you chuckle and think and dammit disagree, just identify yourself, stand up with your nametag and say bullshit. It won't be organized, pointed or even coherent. This is a ramble, dig?
Its just another quiet day here the town of Mekoryuk. Except its Monday. Except its spring is here. Except the days are ending at 11pm. Except...At the Nuniwarmiut School its a very special Monday. Its the first regular Monday we've had in almost a month. It wasn't even normal, it started as a half day because of a funeral in the works but was turned into a full day after second period after it was postponed to tomorrow. By regular, I mean seven periods. You see with state testing, culture weeks, NYO events, Urban exchange students, Washington D.C. Trips, and Senior Trips we've been running about a month of half days, partial days and large percentages of our student population missing and today our students emerged from an apathetic haze of winter into the dissatisfaction of another spring spent indoors listening to blow hards who don't get them. It makes for an odd schedule and an odd way of education her in Mekoryuk. It makes the goal of the day different. Instead of teachers and students mentally preparing for the gauntlet of seven periods of a pointless charade, one only must properly mentally armor themselves till lunch. With the realization of four painful weeks left of fairly lowered expectations, creativity and attendance I have a couple students that have "Given Up" (a rightful response I might argue later) and a few students who have realized they can use this time to cheat the system to their advantage (yet another equally noble course). Giving up is a strong lesson too. Watching others accelerate their lives while you nod away your life is a lesson. Screw the notes, the grades, the expectations the system and its framework. Failure is lesson, it just takes a longer time to deliver the grade. And if I could I would give grades for self destruction, apathy, and sadness, they at least are real lessons. How to write an "Expository Essay" doesn't really mean anything to me.
The best/worst part of teaching is how closely it mirrors characters of life outside of school. The parallels constantly astound me. Asleep in class, asleep on the job. Driven to pass a class, driven to get a promotion. Daydreaming off in to space......daydreaming off into space. Happy go lucky, baby mama drama, relationship wars, bipolar behavior, smugness, sass, depression, hope its all the same whether you're in a classroom or a cubicle. So this kind of brought me to a lot of realizations. When you have a class of four and one is out with a broken foot another with a passing of a lost baby brother, how do you teach probability in math and expect the students to stay on the same level? Differentiate that lesson muchacho. Those who show up rule the world I guess, or at least the ones who drink coffee. When you have students who have no possible chance of passing a class, why are they still required to come? Couldn't they be learning sleeping in and sitting on their ass? What is the point of school. Is it just about checking email and getting lunch...maybe. We can stand at the front of the class, and spout forth the thoughts of those who have come before us in a desperate attempt to somehow catch students up to our reality or the realities of the blunt force trauma of life, or the realities that we desperately tried to avoid then were forced to live. But unless we are showing them to feel and think for themselves and figure out how they participate in life then we really aren't doing anything. And that was exactly how I felt today, barfing and farting forth pointless knowledge to students that need more than that. They didn't seem to care regardless so we're even in my book.
Class isn't about the topic. Its about the game, its about the attitude, its about the social interaction of life. Whether you're in middle school, high school in a Eskimo village, or a Harvard lecture, or cubicle or a factory line its all about people and what they ask you to do and how you respond. What students need to learn is that teachers don't know much about anything. They just know what they think they know about a topic, they know what they have to get across to cover their ass, and they know what they had to go through that they will somehow expect you to go through...well...because its all they know. They want students to succeed in life, but with that genuine concern comes an expectation of what their success is. And that can be even more depressing and hopeless than any content. Then they ask their students to do things. Its not about content. Its about doing what is asked of them...pointed or pointless...or figuring out how to safely get around doing what is asked of you. So what I really mean is that I feel like it should be the job of teachers, bosses, and people to show people how to do what needs to be done quickly and definitively so that the mind is free to pursue more meaningful endeavors. So what should I do, teach them biology, math, writing, or should I teach them how to rock at the endless journey of finding the meaning of life, our evolutionary curse and advantage as humans, the illusion that things matter. I don't seem to care about content anymore...it actually is becoming more and more pointless to even me. Thats a problem. I don't care about "What" I am teaching. I care about attitude, I care about how people treat each other, I care about the now, I care that my students let go of last night, relax about tomorrow and focus on a positive current moment of now. Only by stringing a bunch of those seemingly impossible buggers together might you have a shot at something to hang your hat on.
I mean the most confusing and dangerous part of life, in my opinion, comes when someone knows something for certain. It is those thoughts that will be destroyed perpetually or propagated into solidification by fear. Life is change. I will look back on this diatribe with disgust or compassionate understanding and affection someday, maybe tomorrow. Knowing is momentary. And these students are being drug through a cylindrical wash of thought garbage until one day if they get the spin down well enough we deposit them battered and bruised in an SAT/ACT/GPA packaged cube of shit held together by a masking tape of theological war wounds into an early adulthood where we pretend they have the skills to survive and oh how proud we are that we helped them get there. Even worse, we say go to college, the place where you might have a shot at a chance to think for yourself for the first time (and only those who do will be successful...whatever). But, oh yea, you've been denied the adult pleasures of life so now you can have them until you gorge yourself, and binge and become an addict to the things that will plague you for the greater part of your life. Only then, after surviving and relapsing and spurting and starting and stopping your life will you get a shot at learning from your mistakes. Waking up one day and only after an immense failure or letdown are you free to start over again with nothing to lose. Its success that hinders us. Its out of control.
I want to create warriors. Thought warriors for themselves and their meaningful dreams of bolgna and cheese. I'm sick of pretending like disagreeing is wrong and amoral. No my students can not call each other fags (gay people rule). No I will not shut up about the dangers of religion (its not the only way). No I will not let men rule the world (women are amazing). No I will not pretend like this subject crap matters (because it really doesn't). The only way I can remain in the education field is because of the back door lessons that you can sneak in through the system of class. I am an undercover spy. And now I guess the secret is out. You gotta get the system, so you can change the system by showing the systematic robots how you're gonna do it, so you can break free from the system, so that you can make your own system, so that others can break your system so that you can finally learn the ultimate lesson that you don't know squat and thats okay. Or, if you like the system, work it good, don't like the system because its sameness and safety.
Days like today where I have to play the part, deep undercover of a responsible educator teaching meaningful blabber are the days that I come home and write things like this. I don't have a problem with sleeping students. Its effective. Its a point. Its a statement that says your mumble doesn't interest me (why should it?). What I have a problem with is that when I sit down and try to teach a student how to start telling the world to "blow off I'm doing it my way" they can't even raise an eyebrow to that. That right there is some awesome apathy. That is something truer than I'll ever know. It takes a mighty force to create something like that, pressure and time and heat like granite or a diamond. I don't know whats more powerful, a student who stands up and screams and hollers and throws you through a window, or a student that, with out falter, with out fail, like the sun and moon and tides, simply finds no interest in anything you have to say ever. If that is happening to you, as it is sometimes me, You and I need to listen real hard to that silent student who says nothing, because you know what, apparently neither we.
I don't want to leave on a depressing note but those notes have valor too. These things just have to be said. Not for you. But for me. I need to vent, its part of the human condition, this "complaining" as my anonymous critic calls it. You know what I call it, identifying my own hypocrisy out in the open so that I can gander at it with open eyes for a while, shifting my weight back and forth till I can make sense of it. Complaining, no, reflection of my own failures. When my complaints hit paper I see them clearer.
Today, in the true words of my students, "sucked." I encourage this word by the way simply because I like to go against the grain (I also got caught with a hat on chewing gum so how adult am I?). Today sucked because I in fact sucked as well. I wasn't prepared, I didn't care all that much and I made today this shitty all on my own. Tomorrow will not be a repeat.
Toast those complaint marshmallows on an open fire, get some perspective crackers and some Hershey's who gives a rats ass and make yourself a delicious S'more sandwich of whats new. Either way its something to digest and crap out. Peace.