Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Four weeks ago school started.

My private-schooled, twenty-three year-old, student-teacher-self walked into this big, scary world of "public education" and has been learning and taking notes ever since.

Each morning at 7:30am, the marching band toots their horns and hammers their drums in the grassy area in front of school. The cars circle around at 15 mph dropping off eager, sleep-deprived high schoolers as the band members march to their own tunes. Sometimes the tunes are oldies. Sometimes the tunes are rap songs. Either way, it's not usually the music I'm paying attention to.

I'm looking for my students. J and C are drummers. A plays trombone. T plays, ya know, I don't know what he plays. He's usually just there socializing. And dancing. Like the other day, I parked and watched T start a sort of mosh pit among the cymbal and xylophone players and soon the entire percussion section was jumping, hopping, and bumping. It wasn't long before the trombones jumped in and at that point the chances of someone getting thwacked were about even with the chances of getting punctured in a mosh pit with unicorns.

As it turns out high school isn't much like the movies. This insight came straight from my freshman English journals. They are shocked. And happy. The cheerleaders are not the most popular. Neither are the football players. I don't have the full spectrum of the social norms here, but let's just say all the cliches are not true. Surprise.

Yesterday, H showed me her new tattoo--a large heart on her hip. A gift from her boyfriend for their 5- month anniversary. 'Nough said.

Scott is like a pop culture juke box. When a word or phrase triggers a song, he sings it. Even in class. It makes me laugh.

A conversation in American Lit class turned to globalization and consumption. Ken pointed out that the closer we eat to the source, the better it is for our planet. P and T, two junior girls, asked me, "Are you vegetarian? You look vegetarian?"

"Yeah, I am."

She continued, "Ya know, I've never met a guy who is vegetarian."

I told her, "I actually know more guys who are vegetarian than guys who aren't."

The girls stared at me as if I had a booger.

I went on to explain, "See, I belong to a particular, um, sub-group where this isn't that extraordinary."

"And what sub-group is that?"

Oy, always an interesting question.

On Monday, we talked about the 10-year anniversary of September 11th. These kids were in first grade. The conversations were short and shallow. Their memories were scarce. It wasn't a big deal to them. We spent the entire class period answering questions such as, "What nationality were the terrorists?" and "Why did they crash into the buildings?" Or even, "What is all this Al Qaeda stuff about?" They knew there was an "incident" they don't really understand why it happened or why it matters.

Last week, I was on-campus at my college for my bi-weekly evening class. I arrived early with my teacher bag, my lunch box, and my cardigan. A new freshman who was working custodial poked her head into the classroom to empty the trash can and asked me, "Oh, sorry to interrupt, are you a teacher?"

I half-whispered and half-blurted, "No. No, I am not. I'm a student."

Knowing that really, that's no longer true.


Anonymous said...

you can do it


Joe said...

A teacher still learns and a student can still teach. So, in a way, you're both.