Monday, April 25, 2011

My Dad is a teacher, my Mom is a teacher, I am currently a teacher. You know what my Dad has to say about teachers? "If you are ever at a party Carolina, and you start talking to someone who tells you that they are in the field of education, just run away to the other side of the room."

Hi Ho.

Despite my Dad's high opinion about teachers, and specially about teachers at parties, I have to warn you: this blog is about education. I also have to warn you that if I ever met you at a party, I can probably get your attention by talking about Derrida and Leather or about Hegel's Dialectics...But deep down, I will secretly be waiting for that moment when I can bring up education.

1) On Detachment: I was walking down the hallway today and overheard a student of mine complaining to another student, "We never learn ANYTHING in Spanish class." At this stage of the year, I try not to take anything personally. I am used to my younger students having no problem telling me that something is boring them. "Ms. Drake this is boring, we KNOW this already!" But I always take their complains as constructive criticism "Alright then, moving on..." And in a way, I am thankful that at least they say this to my face. But this specific student is a girl whom I have gone out of my way to help and prevent her from failing my class. So I think that a side of me was a little hurt by her comment. I secretly feel happy when my students tell me I'm their favorite teacher. But this was not a compliment, yet I just smiled like a grownup and kept walking down the hallway. Later during lunch, I confessed to the math teacher that I was sightly upset.
Math teacher, who has been teaching since he was 22, offered his response:

"You know what Carolina? ten years of teaching have taught me that you can get upset about someone whom you can't control, or you can just realize that in the end, they are all just dumb kids."

I like the idea of my students just being dumb kids. It makes sense. And it helps me put things in better perspective. I have, at times, been told that I care too much. And I guess I never really knew that there was something such as "caring too much" until I started teaching and realized that whenever a student was upset in my class I would get upset too. I suffered from excess empathy and it was harming rather than helping my performance. This is all to say that I still need to perfect my detachment skills from my job and from my students but I am getting much better at it. Teaching is a though job and nobody likes to be criticized, and yet, at the same time, teenagers are teenagers, they really are just dumb kids. The same kid who loves you on Monday may hate you on Tuesday. It's part of the job, it's part of my series of lessons in maturity, and it's a part of education.

2) On Hair Care: Out of curiosity, I have decided to throw out the shampoo and wash my hair with baking soda. This supposedly makes hair look better and restores its natural oils. Why not? All I know is that my hair, specially my bangs look so frizzy that I am beginning to look like an authentic middle school teacher. I don't know if this is good or bad.

3) On the subjunctive tense in Spanish: I am teaching the subjunctive tense this month and I think it's my favorite verb tense so far and I am teaching it through a socio-political perspective. My students are showing signs of life again: They seem to be engaged while learning, well, grammar! The Spanish subjunctive is the verb tense of wishes and wants. At one point in the history of Latin America, it was used by emancipatory movements who claimed "Si tuvieramos los medios de produccion, seriamos realmente libres." And sadly, it is not being used anymore. It is being replaced by the verb tenses of capitalism: by the NOW and the objects of possession of the immediate future. Whatever happened to all the longing and anticipatory tenses in our language? Saussure had it right, the mutability and immutability of the sign is such a paradox. But enough philosophy, let's get back to education.