Scene: This morning, in the living room, Bachelors 2 and 3 are watching Big Cat Diary because they woke up early and the house rule is you have TFT (Total Free Time) before 7:00.
Mr. G: I wish I was a leopard. Then you could just sleep all day.
Mr. B: And go hunting anytime you wanted.
Mr. G (enviously) : And all you'd eat all the time would be MEAT.
Yeah, leopards. They have the life.
In other news, I'm digging through my basement file cabinet and throwing away outdated or useless (often both) teaching resources. This morning I discovered a print out of email correspondence related to one of my more miserable experiences as a teacher. Why on earth did I feel compelled to save this stuff? Reading through these emails dredged up a bunch of bad feelings and terrible memories. I haven't thought about the incident in years.
But now it's front and center in my memory today.
Years ago I taught a course called "Teaching Multicultural Curriculums" or some variation on that course title to teachers through a university. One year it was offered in my district for credit and some of the staff taking the course acted unprofessionally (that's an understatement, actually). (I'm going to say right now that there's a huge disparity, sometimes, in how high school teachers behave and how elementary/middle school teachers behave. It is often the result of their building leadership, but in this particular district I had a really tough time drumming up much respect for my elementary/middle school colleagues.) The grand finale was when an associate principal and the police liaison officer escorted a particularly unruly elementary school guidance counselor out of the classroom during one of the final nights of the class. OH THE DRAMA. Because we were talking about race. And because many of the people working in the district had complete job security (thanks to the union) no matter how badly they behaved. And, perhaps, because I was too young and too passionate and too idealistic to be teaching said course to a group of tenured teachers signed up for what they perceived to be an easy 3 credits intended to slide them further up the salary schedule, as opposed to educators signed up because they had an inherent interest in addressing race and identity in a productive way in their classrooms.
Anyway. I look back at that experience and realize how much wind it took out of my sails. I became a less trusting, more jaded and cynical person. I wonder now how I'd have handled the men who bullied me during the class. I wonder now what I'd say to them and, more importantly, how I'd say it. Back then I felt vulnerable and responded more emotionally than I probably should have.
I'm not proud to discover that I harbor some bitter feelings towards some of these people after all of these years. It was a perfect storm of hot topic, poor administration, youthful idealism, lack of accountability and ignorance. Today I'm wondering how much I shy away from talking about the dangerous subjects because of how badly I got burned almost 15 years ago. My view of college coursework is more skeptical now than it was back then, too. It seems that much of those courses are still red tape and hoops to jump through. Do "teaching credits" required today have any greater use or meaning than they did back then? Or is it still an easy money-maker for universities with almost no quality control? It's rare that I hear one of my friends rave about the excellence of a teacher education course they're required by law to take. Usually these courses are something they endure to keep their license current, and the colleges don't really evaluate the instructors or curriculum as long as people keep paying tuition and signing up to take them.
Who knew one dusty file cabinet in my basement could raise so many questions this morning?
I wish I were a leopard. Then I could just sleep all day and think a lot less.