The first time I lost faith in humanity was Halloween. I was perhaps 12 or 13, and my dad and mom took my sisters and I out Trick-Or-Treating. My dad, in his infinite trust in human nature despite being a lawyer, decided since no one would be home, he’d leave a brown grocery bag full of candy out and duct-taped to the wall, along with a note saying “Please Take One.” Well, as you can imagine, we returned to find the bag shredded and empty, flapping sadly in the breeze, victim of teenagers’ greed.
So I learned people aren’t as nice as I think they should be. It would never occur to me to take more than my share when faced with a bowl of Halloween candy or otherwise, but this day and age, it’s an out-dated and old-fashioned notion. Everyone is out to get what’s coming to them before everyone else. At. Any. Cost. Certainly I don’t need to go into politics here, but a mere sideways glance at the TV this election season will tell you that much is true.
Stooping to levels never before measured. Taking pot-shots at the innocent. Filthy language, foul tempers. Stealing what isn’t yours. Interrupting. Screaming matches. Long-drawn-out emails detailing every perceived wrong. Beating up on teachers because no one takes a teacher’s job seriously, and a student should be handed A’s at every turn. Yeah, I’m talking about daily life in a school, not the most recent televised “debate”.
Eighteen professional years worth of tired.
Eighteen years of successively-growing-worse parental and student abuse. Yes, I said abuse. What else would you call the behavior listed above? I am NOT an indentured servant, yet this is what American society treats me like: Dobby the house elf. And they get away with it because somewhere along the line, administrators started bending over backwards to keep the parent happy. Integrity and study skills be damned. It’s all about the grade.
I. Am. Tired. As an educator, my job is not only to teach the curriculum, but to teach the student to be a good human being. But, brother when I do that, they are calling for my head on a pike. Try to teach a student to take on a challenge, practice that ridiculous concept of “resiliency”, and I need to be fired. Never-mind I can grade 171 essays and get them returned in a week. Never-mind the ability to wrangle 37 prepubescents three times a day for an hour and a half each time in a tiny, stifling room where angels fear to tread. Never-mind the state of my house, the size of my bank account, or the cost to my own family.
By the way, rarely does this happen to a male teacher. Nope – as has been all over the media these last weeks, it’s much more fun to belittle and harass a female teacher because you can get away with it. I haven’t a clue why this makes people feel powerful; to me it’s akin to kicking puppies.
So I’ll return from break, plaster on a smile, and wait for that final straw. It’s coming; I can feel it. But maybe I’ll get in one more life-lesson to a grateful teen before I go. And then maybe one more will be learned the day after that. And perhaps the following day a grammar lesson will finally sink in. And step by painful step, I’ll try to forget that disrespect just comes with the educational territory.