I've suspected it for a long time. I like kids and I think education is important, but in the end, it's not enough to keep me in a classroom for the bulk of my working life.
One of my students doesn't know how to look at her book. This doesn't mean that she's illiterate--I think she knows how to read--but she literally refuses to look at her book. I tried to talk to a teacher about it who said that if a kid has already given up on herself, then it's her problem, not yours. Maybe this is how people stay in the game for the long haul.
I've been thinking about this article in the Oxford American about one man's first year teaching in New Orleans. It's worth reading--Sasha Frere Jones, music critic for the New Yorker, calls it a "gorgeous piece of writing." Somehow, I keep coming to this passage:
Right before you become a teacher, you are told by all manner of folks that it will be, 1) the hardest thing you’ve ever done, and 2) the best thing you’ve ever done. That seems like a recipe for recruiting wannabe martyrs. In any case, high stakes can blind you to the best moments. One day, I was stressing over what I imagined was my one-man quest to keep Darius in school and out of jail, and missed that a heated dispute between two fifth graders was escalating. Finally, I asked them what was wrong.
“Mr. Ramsey,” one of the boys pleaded, “will you please tell him that if you go into space for a year and come back to Earth that all your family will be dead because time moves slower in space?”
And today, when I was feeling grumpy about the aforementioned student, I was also able to regain my fortitude. I'm teaching an after school class on "English Conversation" to a group of bright, outgoing, and outright silly students. I think this pretty much sums them up: