Monday, August 14, 2006


Don't get me wrong I love the youth. I plan to teach them throughout my adult career. It warms me throughout to see them learn and experience new things. I truly believe I have impacted people's lives. Maybe I am being over confident with that but I don't really think I am. However, the youth can be a huge disappointment. They can disappoint you so severely that it can make you question if it is truly worth your time. I mean because of strange old Sarah Lawrence I have to go back and take all kinds of silly classes to satisfy the IL state requirements for teaching English. I hope they at least let me get out of the composition class requirement. I mean COME ON.

Case in point, my GED students. While the program I was doing with them was not refunded in June, they were still in the building participating in a summer work program. It was the easiest summer job I could possibly think of. They were to learn about and write poetry. They were then to participate in an open mic and perform some of their pieces. 7 students started the program. 5 finished. 1 showed up to the open mic. Then when their teacher called one of them and told her that saying she would be somewhere and reneging on that promise was dishonorable the student had the nerve to tell her she needed to learn how to talk to people and what made her think she could teach a bunch of street kids poetry in the first place. Now it is beside the point that said student wrote some pretty decent pieces and is a rapper (who apparently has stage fright) but anyone who knows anything about education knows how many young people have been reached through this very process. This poor 19-year-old teacher of theirs feels like a complete failure. Now if I were still their teacher, I would have held their paychecks at the poetry reading and not given them out until a reading had been done. You bet your ass they would have all showed up and had something to perform. Yet, she doesn't think that way because she has more faith than I do and how dare they break her poor heart like that. All I can say is I am glad I was feeling like doing nothing and didn't drag my ass to the south side to hear their poetry. I had really considered doing so and even felt a little guilty. Those little fucks.

I know you can't reach everyone. Hell I know getting one kid who had never written a poem in his life to have the courage to get up at an open mic with experienced performers is something to be proud of. I guess what really gets me is that I expect more from these kids than they expect from themselves. Sometimes I wonder if I am really cut out for a career full of disappointment like that? Will I be satisfied with reaching one or two students a year? Hell, maybe some years they will all be hopeless wastes of time. Now, is that the attitude an aspiring teacher should have? Probably not. At the same time, I know this is something I want to do and I will feel good doing. One of above mentioned little fucks recently just passed his GED test. I can't even begin to explain how happy that made me. Moments like that make it all worthwhile. I just know those days, weeks, months, and years will exist and I give myself a lot of credit for still wanting to put my all into things and see what little changes I can bring.

And now, for the music.

To Love Like The Father and Son Love Each Other, Half-Handed Cloud- Well this just made me feel like all the success that I dream of with those little people is possible. That's what I'm talking about people. Joy, Love, and hope are what keep the world turning. Oh, and gravity.

Disconnect, Rollins Band- This is 90's galore. It traverses the time in my life when I went from listening to “popish” music to “alternative” music although that alternative stuff was very popular. To agree with Henry, I also would like to pull my brainstem out and unplug myself sometimes. This ability would be quite useful today around 3:30 for the weekly management meeting. However, I would need to be able to reconnect myself, put my brainstem back and replug myself. I really love my brainstem.

BasketCase, DangerDoom- What can you say about DangerDoom? You can say it is fucking awesome. You can say that those damn youth don't know shit about it because they think they know everything there is to know about rap music but they really only know about that street crap that all sounds the same. Case in point our fantastic road trip which resulted in me hearing a song that goes "murder murder mamurder murder murder" at least twice a day. I actually almost grew to like it. I wouldn't really mind hearing it right now. That is such a shame. Whatever, I never claimed to not enjoy crappy music. At least I don’t want to hear Stiletto pumps in the club.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Natalie,
I want to recommend a show on PBS to you: it's an episode of P.O.V. called "The Hobart Shakespeareans", about a teacher in LA who teaches Shakespeare to 5th grade kids and does some other very amazing things that remind me a lot of what you did with your students (field trips and all). Check out and the related links on the menus (left and right).