Monday, April 23, 2007

I Love My Job (Sometimes)

I love my job, but sometimes it can suck the life out of me. I love to teach, but sometimes it is hard to be inspiring when I am faced with the uninspirable. Some teachers say they feel like they are throwing pearls before swine, or that teaching high school students these days is like polishing a turd -- no matter how you try to make it shine, you just get shit on you. Personally, I would like to give more credit to the teenagers of today, but sometimes it is hard. I remember having good teachers and not-so-good teachers, but I always found something in what I had to learn each day to take interest in. If I didn't, that is when I lost touch with what I should be learning, and my grades suffered as a result. Many teenagers today, as I see it, are so used to instant entertainment and instant gratification that they seem to not care about something if it means they have to put forth effort to pay attention. I'm sure some may think it is the teacher's job to be entertaining, but I could wear a clown suit and juggle dictionaries and students would still be unimpressed. For example, I read a poem the other day by James Dickey entitled "Cherrylog Road", about a man who waited in a rusty, kudzu-covered junkyard for his lover to meet him, that I was hoping they'd catch the sexual innuendo in the lines:

I held her and held her and held her
Convoyed at terrific speed
By the stalled, dreaming traffic around us
So the blacksnake, stiff
With inaction, curved back
Into life, and hunted the mouse

Since most of the time their conversations somehow revolved around sex, I was hoping to catch their interest, to give them something they could go, "Aha, I know what he's talking about there (wink, wink)!" Istead, I get the pat answer that I get almost every time, "I don't get it." I didn't even get a Beavis and Butt-head response of, "Uh, Huh, Huh. He said 'stiff'."

Maybe it's just me, that I'm an ineffectual teacher. I want students to use their brain and think about the meanings of stories and poems, but so many times I find all they want is for me to tell them what it means. They don't have the patience, don't care about the discovery, that Eureka moment when a story, a poem becomes their own because they make meaning of it on their own. Well, tomorrow's another day.

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