Don’t Bore Me; I’m Special

If there are any kids out there who love school, they are not speaking up.

For me, this is a reality of teaching, that I am the enemy, the mean person who is making kids learn things that are ‘boring.’

I sympathize. I don’t want to do boring things, either. But isn’t this a reality of adult life, that we all have to do laundry, pay bills, take out the garbage? Life is not always entertaining.

Do I expect a sixteen-year-old to accept this without complaint? Of course not.

Do I expect to be blamed for ‘boring’? Maybe. Sometimes. But mostly I blame the curriculum.

Put aside the curriculum for a moment. Like most teachers, I make choices about what I’m asked to teach. I try to avoid boring my students. Bored students = trouble.

I teach juniors, sixteen- and seventeen-year olds who have drivers licenses and cell phones. They like to shop, to socialize, to party. They don’t willingly open a book. Books are boring.

All of my juniors want to be successful adults. Most of them include college in their list of “Stuff to Do.” A few of them include “Collage” in that list, but by the time they write those college application essays, they will know how to spell it. I guarantee it.

Juniors use the word “so” a lot. They still think “a lot” is one word. So: I am spending a lot of time wondering why they think I am the enemy.

I don’t cry myself to sleep over this, but I do wonder about it. If I am one of the people who can prepare them to be successful, why do they whine about what I ask them to do? Obviously, they don’t believe that I know what I’m talking about. Obviously, I’ve been a teacher too long to remember the real world.

And they are Special. Someone has been reminding them of that since they were in kindergarten. They can be whaever they dream they can be. Pay no attention to that reality behind the curtain.

“Why do we have to write all the time?” they complain.

It’s a writing class, I think. “Writing is thinking,” I say. “Clear thinking produces better writing. That’s our goal. Clear thinking, good writing. Everybody needs to think, right?”

I never thought that writing would be a cause for rebellion. When I look at our curriculum, I am sure that what we have to read will provoke the most negativity. I page through our textbook, certain that they will rebel at “On Plymouth Plantation,” or “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.”

But they don’t. They read silently, answer questions 1-5, hand in their paper. They regurgitate what they have read, being careful not to think about it too deeply. If they know exactly what to do, they just do it, no questions asked. No thinking required.

I am sad.

Friday I brought in an article for them to read. It was about a school just like ours – a racially integrated urban school. It suggested things that might directly impact their life goals, hinted at controversy. I expected to provoke arguments, even fights. I expected to have to phone the office, to radio for help, to explain myself.

They didn’t care. They had no thoughts about it. Thinking would require too much energy. I was disappointed. I expected at the very least to have to explain to my principal why I raised such a volatile issue. And I was ready to respond.

Instead, I listened incredulously as a student told me, “I don’t have any thoughts about it. I really don’t care.”

It must be lonely in there, I thought. One lonely thought pinging between your ears, and that thought is, ‘when does 6th period end?’

I want my students to be prepared for college. I want them to be among the 75% who make it to sophomore year, among the 50% who graduate in six years.

So we write, and write.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Dan Bakitus
    Oct 09, 2010 @ 23:39:45

    And write we do
    to educate their minds
    to unlock their cage
    and let rewind
    seep inside benign
    and educate their mind
    with a filthy thought of design
    leaving no trace of time
    or purpose to provide
    a choice to choose to lie
    with heaven on their side
    we are misaligned with a tie
    and they have realigned their lies
    teachers lie and students die
    every time they get high
    and start to cry
    before they die
    when they start to say hi
    so say bye to the catcher and the rye
    when they don’t write to learn to read a lie
    the truth in the word i son at their side
    is icing inside their icing pride
    and won’t burn to live a lie
    if only they closed their eye
    the one dimensional why
    why I
    may I
    tell I’m
    better than I
    remember teachers lie
    i’m better
    They don’t listen when god is on the line
    using their words to educate their mind.


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