Apathy Jack writes:
I haven’t been bringing my “A” game to school for a while now. Various reasons, some legit, most not, but I’ve been trying to fix that recently, and there are signs that I’m doing it properly...
The Year 13s have lost their will to work: they’re lethargic in class; missing deadlines; failing to attend tutorials. Happens around this time every year, but this is the worst case I’ve seen in a while. The History Teacher decided to give her class a rark-up about it, and asked me to come in and support her, because in addition to having the same problems, twenty out of her twenty-three students were are also in my Classics class.
She spoke well, from her heart, saying that she knew most of them thought that she took History way too seriously, but that her subject defined a large part of her identity, so their lack of effort, and the lies they told her about why they hadn’t done the sundry work, not only upset her as a teacher but undermined and offended her as a person.
I led by saying that, being several years older than her, and some orders of magnitude more cynical, I did not have that degree of idealism and personal connection to their effort or lack thereof. However, what I did have was the better part of eight years experience preparing students to pass level 3 Classics exams, so I know how much subject knowledge one needs to succeed. I also know how much knowledge each and every one of them had. I pointed to each of my twenty students in turn:
“You’re going to fail. You’re going to fail. You’re going to fail. You’re going to pass. You’re going to fail. You’re going to fail. You’re going to pass one booklet out of the three. You’re going to fail. You’re going to pass with Achieveds – you’re capable of Merits but you won’t get them. You’re going to fail. You’re going to fail. You’re going to fail.” And so on.
After school I was talking to a delegation of those students. They told me that they were pissed off at me for what I said, but only until they thought about it. They realised that the History Teacher and I were right, but they weren’t sure how to process it, how to react to it.
“It’s just that we haven’t really had many young, vibrant teachers before,” said one. I reminded her that I was far from being either young or vibrant. “Well,” she continued, “teachers that were like, passionate about the stuff they taught. Most of our teachers are old, and it’s weird to hear a teacher actually saying they care about their subject.”
“Yeah,” added another, “And I don’t think any of our teachers have ever been as honest with us as you and Miss were.”
That might just about do as proof that I’m starting to do this right again.
But you know, if it doesn’t, I can always use the smaller and pithier example, also from today:
I pulled a student out of her Materials class for no good reason to rant at her about poetry. Having finished, and threatening to poke her with needles, I wandered off. As I left, she called me back.
“There’s like, a lot wrong with you, ay Sir?”
Yeah, I think I’m getting back into the swing of this...