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Friday, July 16, 2010

Summer Fun

What started out as a promising summer of intelligent students, stimulating conversation, and fun has now devolved into a chaotic humid mess of curse words, sass, and inanity. I remember the first week going home to my wife and telling her that the students here were much better than those I teach during the regular school year. Unfortunately, many of those students had hidden issues that forced them to lash out or drop out during the six weeks we have been here. Not all of the students have been trying, but those that have far outweigh those that have not.

One of those, who just so happens to be standing in front of me right now, has been a pebble in my Converse since day 2. Her contrarian attitude and penchant for verbosity makes her incapable of being a good student. Though she seems like a pleasant enough person, I can’t bring my self to respect her as a student, and ultimately that is how I am required to judge her. The sound of her voice has become synonymous with wasting time and epic distraction. A Marvel character based on this student would never have to throw a punch, she could just start a conversation about what her girlfriends did last weekend and kidnappers would spontaneously let go their hostages, burglars would happily dust and vacuum the homes they broke into and carjackers would chauffeur their victims just to get her to shut up.

My students and I have been victims of verbal abuse and assault from a variety of students. A gang has formed whose sole requirement for entry is a vocabulary limited to the n-word, any and all s-words, and the f-bomb. Their propensity for spewing hot ash and magma has burnt many villages, obscured the sun, and set back the course of education by several centuries. I can only assume that as a child they were raised on a steady diet of Captain Crunch, Kool-Aid, and The Sopranos.

Like Tony Soprano, my students are incredibly loyal and dedicated. For the first time in my years of teaching summer school I have students that have clung to false hope and a belief in the kindness of human nature so fiercely that they have deluded themselves into worshipping the mythical Magical D. Magical D father of their pantheon. He grants credits from on high like they were lollipops from a doctor. Soothing the sting of an F with the three-lick tastiness of a Tootsie Pop. Students follow the Magical D on the path of graduation to be lavished with $10 checks from aunts and uncles and a life time of unsatisfying work in a slightly above minimum wage job. All hail the Magical D, granter of mediocrity, savior of the unmotivated, and creator of all that is okay.

The students most harmed by this mudslide of mediocrity are those that found themselves here by some quirk of fate, a tiny knot in the fabric of their lives. These students came to summer school expecting to learn and have been thwarted at every turn by the champions of average and the divine intervention of the Magical D. I feel powerless against such a mighty Olympian, yet I know I must continue the struggle.

I have given up frequently. This usually manifests itself in the form of frustration, blunt answers, and slides into what some consider sarcasm. I wish that I had the strength to face my enemy everyday instead of hiding behind the flimsy shield of irony, but I have been stuck by bolts of below standard work for so long I may have forgotten what to do with anything else. I must find the elixir that will restore my love teaching and students so that I may continue to fight the influence of students and their undying devotion to the Almighty D.