Back To School
Several teachers weighed in when I wrote about my long-term affection for the first day of school. They get to feel that way every year, they bragged.
And I was jealous.
Back in college, I thought I might teach. Not Accounting or Business like I work in now. No, I was an English major.
Then I did my student teaching semester. Junior High.
Okay, I know you’re groaning. There’s nothing like twenty thirteen-year-olds to elicit significant groaning,
But I liked the kids.
What frustrated me most was herding them. I liked “Rawhide” and “The Big Valley” when I was growing up, and rounding up cattle seemed like a difficult job, but Rowdy Yates and Heath Barkley should have tried it with teenagers.
My typical lesson went something like this:
“Let’s look at this poem – turn around Michelle – what is this guy – everyone listen up – what is this guy – shh – doing in this - Scott, cut that out – look here everyone – do you think – please close that window – do you think that the raven – Kim sit down – really speaks – attention, here – what does – put that down – it mean – quiet – eyes front – what does – no you may not – nevermore.”
And back then, I didn’t even have to contend with texting.
And so I ended my teaching career and began to work with quiet and obedient debits.
But I’ve always thought that perhaps I could still do it. Maybe on the college level, where it’s not the teacher’s responsibility to make sure the kids pay attention.
I could just address the kids who are listening, and ignore the ones who are wasting their parents’ money.
I really believed this. Until a couple of years ago.
A close relative got her dream job – teaching at a prestigious university.
Then not so much.
She is working shitloads of hours. The preparation is insane. And then there are the kids. College kids with kindergarten parents. And the papers and exams to correct. And then there are the papers that she has to write to impress the tenure committee. And the conferences.
And on top of all of that, she’s in a technical field, with rapidly changing technology that is ridiculous to stay on top of. So…. reading and research fill every scrap of spare time.
This is definitely not my dream job.
Teaching still has an allure for me. I love the way kids light up when they get it. I love the academic atmosphere… the very air crackles with energy – something important is going on. Learning is happening here. And then of course there’s the first day of school and the new pencil box.
So I have figured it out. How I can semi-retire and have an EASY teaching career.
I may work in Finance, but I was an English major after all. Language may be fluid, but that fluid moves like cold ketchup. And certain literature doesn’t move at all.
Like this guy.
Mark Twain was the focus of my studies as an undergrad.
While my classmates were struggling with pharmacology and engineering, I was reading “Huckleberry Finn.”
Mark Twain had everything for me. He told stories with humor and sarcasm. He lived in Connecticut. He wrote nasty letters to the gas company. He mainly thought the worst of people. He liked cats.
Not only that. He was fussy about his clothes and his hair. I recall that he did not rinse the shampoo out of his hair, because he liked how fluffy and white his hair looked with the shampoo still in. This is like the earliest precursor of mousse.
This is a person who I may be a reincarnation of.
And the best thing about Mark Twain?
He hasn’t written anything new in 102 years.
I can stay on top of this. I can write my lecture notes just once, and use them until Halley’s Comet comes back.
Mark Twain. My new pencil box. It’s so perfect.
One class a semester… starting at 10 am and I’m done by lunch.