Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Lotus Blossoms

I spend my days arguing with fourteen-year-olds. In some ways this is hugely entertaining, sort of like playing your favorite video game on the easiest level simply to enjoy the sweet taste of TOTAL victory. There is a certain sick thrill in laying a philosophical snare and watching a dopey-faced teenager humdiddle right into it.

As an educator, I know I am not supposed to delight in the ignorance of my pupils. I am supposed to kindly guide them with the light of knowledge and nurture their curiosity until their inner being blossoms forth like a lotus flower and drops infinitely into the pool of inclusive wisdom.

Let me tell you something, the mouth breather in seat fifteen isn't dropping anything anywhere unless it's a bag of fries into the deep-fat fryer at Dairy Queen. The bit about the lotus flowers is nice, but altogether unrealistic. If any teacher could perform their duties one hundred percent of the time according to the cutesy, hallmark descriptions of "teacher" that are so freely tossed around disguised as advice, then they would suddenly look up to find themselves in the company of Dr. King, Mother Teresa, The Dali Lama, and JC; in which case they would either be dead or, with concern to the Lama, at Richard Gere's house.

More probably, the teacher in question looks up to find themselves playing the role of an underpaid, over-glorified baby sitter who is constantly harangued by people who used to teach about things that have nothing to do with lotus flowers or pools of inclusive wisdom or even the students. The newly disillusioned teacher now has two choices: (1) Begin chewing on light bulbs or (2) Laugh a little. A little at themselves. A little at the students . . . a little more at the students.

The students in my teaching reality happen mostly to be fourteen-year-olds. There are a few wizened veterans peppered through my roll sheets, but they rarely supply the laughing fodder one needs on a really bad day. My most prolific students are young, gangly sprouts of their future selves. They have braces. Their voices crack. They accept no personal responsibility. They are anthropomorphic taperecorders of their parents conversations. Despite having little to no experience with The Big Bad World, they feel completely justified in commenting on its truths and fallacies in stark strokes of black and white. Some wonderful and sincere statements of fact I have recently heard:

"Red Bull has bull sperm in it. Seriously. You can totally get pregnant by drinking it."

"Bangladesh is the Capital of Bangkok."

"Is World War II the one with the Confederates and the guys who wore blue?"

After explaining that in Shakespeare's time young boys played the female roles because women were not allowed to perform and then opening a textbook to a photograph of Olivia Hussey from Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet, "Hey, that doesn't look much like a young boy."

After mention of Pancho Villa as a "Robin Hood" figure," Pancho Villa wore red and was eaten by a wolf!?"

"Virgin who?! Virgin Mary? Who the heck is the Virgin Mary?"

All classics, and I'm not losing any sleep worrying about whether any of these pearls was uttered by an undiscovered lotus blossom. The way I see it, if I spend all of my time trying to grow a garden full of lotus blossoms I'll get to the light bulb chewing stage much sooner than I would like and I would miss out on the color pansies and daisies and lilacs and roses bring to the world. Besides, my favorite flower has always been the Jackass Clover.

1 comment:

Sierra Lima Juliet Tango said...

I adore this, oh so much. Im sitting in class and have to chew on my knuckle to stop myself from laughing aloud. I love how you write, oh please do continue haha although i know you have, but continue more?