The English Teacher

A new year and a small hope
January 2, 2007, 8:58 pm
Filed under: Daily Life, Future, Quotes

2006 was an interesting year.  At this time last year, I was just beginning my stint as a student teacher.  The school I was sent to was in an affluent area and the neighborhood’s wealth was reflected in the school.  I guess I enjoyed my time there, but when I wasn’t offered an interview, I was pretty bitter.  This may seem like a harsh emotion, but considering that I asked the department head for one (because there was going to be an opening for this school year) and was told that I would be contacted, I would say that my feelings of anger and bitterness are justified.  Upon finishing my student teaching, I desperately applied to several school districts, including those I wasn’t familiar with, and did not hear anything from them.  I did have a preliminary interview with a local school district but I guess I didn’t qualify.  In short, the reason why I moved all the way out here was because this was the only school district that offered me a position.  The school I initially interviewed with actually turned me down for another applicant.  It was upon Susie’s suggestion that I called up other schools that had vacancies and asked if they were interested in interviewing me.  One accepted, interviewed me that day, and called me back the next day with an offer.  When I think about it now, it was very foolish jumping in without knowing anything about the school, but I was desperate.  Though it wouldn’t have been the end of the world if I had been jobless for about a year, I didn’t want to be the only person from my graduate school who was graduating without a job.  Damn pride. 

The school I am at now is very different from the one I student taught in.  Even though I was prepared to expect the very worst, it is not that bad.  The students can definitely be difficult and it’s an uphill battle trying to get them interested in their futures.  In a way, my students remind me of this passage from Patrick O’Brian’s Post Captain.  In this passage, Stephen Maturin is making an observation of the common sailors in the Royal Navy, “the sailor, at sea (his proper element), lives in the present.  There is nothing he can do about the past at all; and, having regard to the uncertainty of the omniptent ocean and the weather, very little about the future…Sailors will provide against a storm tomorrow, or even in a fortnight’s time; but for them the remoter possibilities are academic, unreal.  They live in the present.”

I think this accurately sums up my students’ attitudes.  Many of them live intensely and wholly for the present moment.  They care only about themselves and their immediate circle of friends.  Very few of them are interested in laying aside provisions for the future.  If they can experience gratification and pleasure now, then they are satisfied.  I know that part of this mindset is due to their ignorance and immaturity, but I wonder how much of this is influenced by older siblings or parents.  For some of my freshmen, the idea of dropping out of school is not a novelty in their families for they have older brothers and sisters who are still living at home and working a minimum wage job.  Unfortunately, those sisters may also have little ones of their own.

It’s a hopeless situation.  Even at the best of times, very few, if any, would describe as an optimist.  Though I don’t altogether consider myself a pessimist, when I look at some of my students, I wonder how many of them are going to drop out because they can’t (won’t) try to succeed, because they become pregnant, or just because.  I only see a very few of them managing to crawl their way to the top and graduating because they care and because there is someone at home who also cares.  I honestly hope and pray that I’m being uncommonly negative because this is my first year on the job and that my students will surprise me.


May 26, 2006, 8:20 pm
Filed under: Quotes

"…but he who destroys a good book, kills Reason itself, kills the Image of God…"