Sneering at the "True Believers"
I walked in on a conversation among some of my colleagues the other day in which they were basically mocking me for working "too" hard. They referred to me as "a True Believer" in a sneering way.
Yep, a very interesting uncomfortable silence then ensued, before I very coolly asked for what I had come in to get and then made a very regal exit, chin up, hopefully more like Katharine Hepburn and less like Gerald Ford going down the steps of Air Force One.
It might have annoyed me less if some of them didn't make a habit of "borrowing" copies of my lessons before I can even pick them up from the copying center. The part of the discussion I got to hear was too embarassing to be recounted in detail, but let it suffice to say that, basically, I should give up on more kids, do less explaining, give less homework, and use worksheets and other publisher-generated materials more. I shouldn't make students write in complete sentences or with correct spelling, either.
Interestingly, the people involved in this discussion were rather young, very conservative politically, and yet seem to view teaching as, basically, "the only full time gig [they] could choose as a career with so much potential for free time." And that's a quote. The sight of "teachers" sneering at people who care about teaching also distresses me. This probably wouldn't have bugged me so much if one of my students hadn't basically asked me why I didn't do some other career because, basically, I'm too "smart" to be a teacher-- why wasn't I a lawyer or something (that basically is more respected in our society)? (Once again, this conversation took several minutes, but this was his basic thrust once I understood what he was asking me. Usually, when kids start a conversation with a compliment to me, I look for my wallet, since they're probably buttering me up for some fundraiser.)
Yes, I do believe that education makes a difference. I do believe that real learning counts more than a grade on a transcript. I do believe that there is always the hope that an incredibly screwed-up kid can eventually straighten themselves out-- I've seen it happen. I've had several former students come back to see me who did not do well in high school, worked minimum wage jobs for a long time until they figured out why they kept getting fired, and finally realized that you only get one trip through this world, that neither time nor youth is infinite, and that they've also wasted too much time. That nothing changes without effort and even some failure. Which is exactly the way that I look at it for myself, by the way.
Of course, I've had other students who never figured that out. But there is always free choice.
So I'll keep being "stupid," since none of my "extra" work results in a penny more in pay-- just as they pointed out.
I think I'll open a nice bottle of merlot and