Two nights ago, I couldn’t get past the idea that I’d rather be covered in baby poo and puke than try to give knowledge, encouragement, motivation, and love to selfish, ungrateful students. Teenagers, by nature and levels of brain development, are selfish beings; none of that is new information to me. (Which is why teen girls choose to get pregnant: I want a cute baby to love me forever! All the while forgetting the fact they currently hate their own parents.)
After working with students for the past five years, it’s blatantly obvious that the first few years of life are insanely important. I truly love my students – if I didn’t, I couldn’t do what I do – yet I’m stuck with trying to overcome the effects of television babysitting; music, games, and movies too mature and wildly inappropriate for their age; and parents who are overworked and insanely stressed by life. Yes, these parents love their children. Yes, they do the best they can…life in this day and age is just tough.
I’m trying not to turn this into a Natalie Munroe rant (for the record, I agree with her statements), just stating the daily hurdles and challenges of teaching. No matter what I do, I cannot make them care. I cannot force them to be motivated – and if they haven’t grown up in an environment that promotes education and motivation, there’s not much I can do…at least that’s how I feel around 3:30pm on a semi-regular basis.
Unfortunately, this mindset gets worse every year; it gets harder and harder to motivate them to do much of anything. When I say “them” I’m not referring to all students. Every year I’m blessed with 75-80 respectful students who actually care about their education…or at least they fake it well. Adding to the general lack of motivation, the state of Texas begins new rigorous standardized testing next year…which never solves anything.
These factors, and so many more, led me to tell Mark that “I’d rather be covered in puke and baby poo than go back to school tomorrow.” I almost immediately followed that with: “I’m sure when I am covered in puke and poo I’ll regret it and wish I were back in the classroom, but for now I take poo.” This past year of teaching has led me to create a long When I Have a Baby, I’m Doing This list. I long to quit teaching in order to put every ounce of my life into giving that baby every advantage in life. I’ve started reading scholarly research books about brain development, mentally mapping out the first four years. Granted, I don’t yet have a child and have never been faced with the difficulties of providing for a family, but when the time comes, I only get one shot.
No matter how hard I try – and try I do – I can’t make up for being raised on hours of MTV, Lady Gaga, not reading books, eating unhealthy foods (it truly affects their developing brains), and parents who aren’t around because they’re forced to make ends meet. My fear is that no matter how much of my life juice I squeeze into them, the effect will be minimal at best. For now, all I can do is be a student of my students to learn how to best benefit them (and hope they’ll let me), and keep adding to my When I Have a Baby list…