A Shrewdness of Apes

An Okie teacher banished to the Midwest. "Education is not the filling a bucket but the lighting of a fire."-- William Butler Yeats

Sunday, October 29, 2006

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 mope blog for a while.


At 10/29/06, 6:28 PM, Blogger CaliforniaTeacherGuy said...

Blogging is always better for the soul than moping. Thanks for opening that bottle of merlot and heading for the keyboard!

At 10/29/06, 7:29 PM, Blogger Diana said...

Your students are lucky to have you. It is rare to have a teacher who understands the ambiguity of failure and success. Sad how "success" is viewed by many teachers and students primarily in material terms. But when the students come up against rough times, they will remember you, not the teachers who gave them worksheets and sat back. Keep on rocking. I love reading your blog.

At 10/29/06, 9:13 PM, Blogger Ms. George said...

My students look at me like I am crazy when I respond to the question, "What would you do if you won the lottery, Ms. George?" I tell them I'd be right back in the classroom on Monday. I love my job and all the lovelies that come with it too much to stop. Some teachers think I'm crazy too. Usually they are the old-school types who also wonder why I care so much.
Reading your blog reminds me that someone else knows why too.

At 10/29/06, 10:08 PM, Blogger elementaryhistoryteacher said...

Yes, we are gluttons for punishment....but then we wouldn't have great reasons to unwind with a glass of merlot.

Where's my corkscrew?

At 10/29/06, 10:11 PM, Blogger La Maestra said...

I could have written this exact same post, and I'm frustrated and upset for you. My school has an unbelievable amount of naysayers, and the worst thing to me is that they don't just limit their remarks to me--they make them to the students as well.

I remain a True Believer as well--focused on promting hard work on my part and rigor on my students' part as the key to student success. But I won't remain at my school for many more years--I can't handle the negativity, and I refuse to become bitter and jaded like the rest of them.

At 10/30/06, 6:05 AM, Blogger mr. e said...

Some of the best advice I've ever heard is "Only listen to the opinions of people you respect." These people are obviously bums and not very bright as well. As someone who is changing careers in teaching, I can tell you that these people can find higher paying jobs and still mess around and surf the internet 5 hours a day.

Hmmm... I just noticed that you mentioned formal students that wasted part of their lives and these people in the same post. Interesting.

At 10/30/06, 11:38 AM, Anonymous Ivory said...

If you listen to dogs barking, you will go deaf without learning very much.

You can't possibly take what those people are saying seriously. Take perverse pride in annoying them further by doing an EXTRA good job. They clearly feel intimidated by you. Make this worse by showing just what hot stuff you are.

At 10/30/06, 2:28 PM, Anonymous Jess, the Computer Diva said...

I can count on one hand the number of teachers I've had--throughout all my years of schooling, from pre-K through grad school--who truly made a positive difference in my life.

Who believed in me when I didn't believe in myself.
Who challenged me to think beyond the lesson plan.
Who saw something bright and worthy in a quiet, isolated, good-grades-but-terrible-attitude kid who was perfectly happy to do the bare minimum and nothing more.

Those are the teachers I remember today as an adult. They were True Believers too. Thank you for all that you do.

At 10/30/06, 3:58 PM, Anonymous redkudu said...

I get the same reaction from teachers when I tell them I work on lesson plans all summer. I get the same disgusted remarks when I say I have the first semester's lesson plans and activities planned down to the minute before school starts. I've never seen a clearer case of adolescent jealousy carried over into adult life. And, like you, these are the ones wandering over to my room and asking "What are you doing tomorrow? Can I have a copy of your plan?"

I do try not to let it bother me. I believe teaching is a year-round profession, in spite of when we have kids in the room. And during the summer I have the luxury of playing with many ideas, not just rushing to get a "lesson" ready for the next day.

I will say this: As a "True Believer," I am never caught off guard. I never have to flounder to find an assignment when things come up. I even do the warm up every day for the teacher who shares my room during my conference period, because he doesn't get there on time. All this takes a lot of stress out of the job for me.

Frankly, I think we're the smart ones. :)

At 10/30/06, 5:02 PM, Blogger Dennis Fermoyle said...

Ms. Cornelius, this post is depressing. It really bothers me to hear that there are teachers who actually have that attitude. I wish they'd find something else to do--something with even more "free time." I probably shouldn't judge teachers I don't know, but it sounds to me that they are some of the ones who give the rest of us a bad name. I have a reputation for hard work as a teacher, but my colleagues have always made it clear to me that they respected me for it.

Don't feel to badly, though. No one has ever told me that I'm too smart to do anything.

At 10/30/06, 5:22 PM, Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

I guess I'm just tired of their crap. I've also let their juvenile behavior at lunch get to me, so I think I'll eat with the English teachers for a while.

I also spend a lot of my summer reading and preparing for class-- besides playing with my own children. The truth is, I really enjoy teaching. It more than makes up for the pay. I've got a great bunch of kids this year-- and the administration basically leaves me alone, and I mean that in a good way.

I just don't like the double standard-- these same people may not be "bad" teachers-- but they're crtainly not grown-ups, or good colleagues. But hey-- no one promised that everyone you work with would be nicey-nicey. I'm not that naive.

Mr. e-- I never thought of it that way. Are you saying should hope for the teachers' redemption too, or that the two groups have being slackers in common?

Thank you so much everyone for the support. You're right-- they're idiots.

I need to be more Zen. This is the sound of one hand clasping a glass of merlot.

Come on over-- there's plenty.

At 10/30/06, 6:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess I'm lucky in that I'm in a building with a lot of True Believers, from the principal on down. However, I've been in other buildings where the negative harpies were everywhere. I also had the experience of going back to school to become a teacher at 38 (already had a BS in business under my belt and was bored to DEATH) and sitting in classes with 20 somethings who didn't have a clue, who didn't take their education seriously, and were going into teaching because it was something they could do without - they thought - too much effort. I hope they're in that group of teachers that the studies say quit within five years. Goodness knows I wanted to tell them to shut the hell up and sit down. Their work ethic made me want to scream.

You have to really like kids to do this job (and if you teach middle school you have to really, really like kids!). And if you're lazy, and you don't expect and demand work from your kids, then you aren't doing the job to the best of your ability.

I guess some of us just take a lot more pride in what we do. It's a calling.

At 10/30/06, 7:51 PM, Blogger Laura(southernxyl) said...

Mrs. Bluebird's comment causes me to wonder how much of an affect your principal has on the prevailing attitudes, Ms. Cornelius.

Those people you are talking about are losers. I feel sorry for them.

At 10/30/06, 9:41 PM, Blogger quakerdave said...

True believers are the only hope that our kids might have. The others will eventually move on to other things anyway.

Keep on believin'. Got me into my 26th year.

Gotta go grade papers now.

At 10/30/06, 10:12 PM, Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

The principal works hard. The APs, however, are a mixed lot. My post about Dante's Inferno basically summed it up.

It's really our department chair-- he's total Good Ole Boy-- without the "good" part. Doesn't seem to care too much about anything but football.

Mrs Bluebird-- they didn't quit-- they got jobs in my building.

I keep hoping they'll move on out-- trouble is, they'll probably become administrators.

At 10/31/06, 11:05 PM, Blogger Polski3 said...

Keep doing what you believe is right. Thats all we can really do.

I often hear from another teacher on my wing that "You work too hard. Look at all this stuff you have to grade !". I keep replying, "yeh, well, THATS how I teach."

I have also made it a point NOT to be like a few of the teachers I had, many, many moons ago, who gave us stuff to do, then sat and read the newspaper or went to get coffee from the teachers lounge. I may be teaching the same subject for the past few years now, but the kids who are filling up my seats now are not the ones that were there years ago.....IMO, we teachers have a responsibility and obligation to do what we believe is best for our students. And that usually requires work, change, finding a new approach, and all the other things that make up this trade called "Teaching".

"As ye sow, ye shall reap".

Keep your chin up and be proud!

At 11/1/06, 10:24 AM, Blogger ricki said...

I'm a college professor and I hear some of that crud. I've heard other people I work with talk about this

For example: lots of people have stopped giving short writing assignments because they were "too much work to grade" and they think I was wasting my time by giving them and then having to grade them. And yet - I notice that students do better on tests on topics they have written about.

And it's kind of this relentless drumbeat: you're working too hard. Work smarter, not harder. (Whichis a phrase I hate with a great passion. What does it mean? In most people's mouths, it means "accept doing a half-assed job because you're done quicker."

And you know, it does hurt - it makes me feel like a chump for working so hard. And Lord knows I'd like more time during the week to relax and reflect, and to not have to come in on so many weekends to work. But I can't quite allow myself to drop back and do less, because I'd feel like I wasn't doing my job.

So I don't know. I don't know a solution other than to hold your head high and know you're doing the right thing. And remind yourself that it's hard to soar with the eagles when you're surrounded by turkeys - but it's not impossible.

At 11/2/06, 8:29 AM, Blogger Lisa said...

It's funny, just when you are about to give up on a kid, that's when they turn a corner. It's great to have talented and hard-working students but it's more satisfying when the kid that's been at the back of the class all year comes to the front and starts talking. You don't get that by assigning worksheets.

At 11/7/06, 5:27 PM, Anonymous Enlightenment said...

Speaking of "true believers" but of a different sort, ones that will believe anything rather than face an awful truth:

One thing that struck me as odd in the days after 9/11 was Bush saying "We will not tolerate conspiracy theories [regarding 9/11]". Sure enough there have been some wacky conspiracy theories surrounding the events of that day. The most far-fetched and patently ridiculous one that I've ever heard goes like this: Nineteen hijackers who claimed to be devout Muslims but yet were so un-Muslim as to be getting drunk all the time, doing cocaine and frequenting strip clubs decided to hijack four airliners and fly them into buildings in the northeastern U.S., the area of the country that is the most thick with fighter bases. After leaving a Koran on a barstool at a strip bar after getting shitfaced drunk on the night before, then writing a suicide note/inspirational letter that sounded like it was written by someone with next to no knowledge of Islam, they went to bed and got up the next morning hung over and carried out their devious plan. Nevermind the fact that of the four "pilots" among them there was not a one that could handle a Cessna or a Piper Cub let alone fly a jumbo jet, and the one assigned the most difficult task of all, Hani Hanjour, was so laughably incompetent that he was the worst fake "pilot" of the bunch. Nevermind the fact that they received very rudimentary flight training at Pensacola Naval Air Station, making them more likely to have been C.I.A. assets than Islamic fundamentalist terrorists. So on to the airports. These "hijackers" somehow managed to board all four airliners with their tickets, yet not even ONE got his name on any of the flight manifests. So they hijack all four airliners and at this time passengers on United 93 start making a bunch of cell phone calls from 35,000 feet in the air to tell people what was going on. Nevermind the fact that cell phones wouldn't work very well above 4,000 feet, and wouldn't work at ALL above 8,000 feet. But the conspiracy theorists won't let that fact get in the way of a good fantasy. That is one of the little things you "aren't supposed to think about". Nevermind that one of the callers called his mom and said his first and last name, more like he was reading from a list than calling his own mom. Anyway, when these airliners each deviated from their flight plan and didn't respond to ground control, NORAD would any other time have followed standard operating procedure (and did NOT have to be told by F.A.A. that there were hijackings because they were watching the same events unfold on their own radar) which means fighter jets would be scrambled from the nearest base where they were available on standby within a few minutes, just like every other time when airliners stray off course. But of course on 9/11 this didn't happen, not even close. Somehow these "hijackers" must have used magical powers to cause NORAD to stand down, as ridiculous as this sounds because total inaction from the most high-tech and professional Air Force in the world would be necessary to carry out their tasks. So on the most important day in its history the Air Force was totally worthless. Then they had to make one of the airliners look like a smaller plane, because unknown to them the Naudet brothers had a videocamera to capture the only known footage of the North Tower crash, and this footage shows something that is not at all like a jumbo jet, but didn't have to bother with the South Tower jet disguising itself because that was the one we were "supposed to see". Anyway, as for the Pentagon they had to have Hani Hanjour fly his airliner like it was a fighter plane, making a high G-force corkscrew turn that no real airliner can do, in making its descent to strike the Pentagon. But these "hijackers" wanted to make sure Rumsfeld survived so they went out of their way to hit the farthest point in the building from where Rumsfeld and the top brass are located. And this worked out rather well for the military personnel in the Pentagon, since the side that was hit was the part that was under renovation at the time with few military personnel present compared to construction workers. Still more fortuitous for the Pentagon, the side that was hit had just before 9/11 been structurally reinforced to prevent a large fire there from spreading elsewhere in the building. Awful nice of them to pick that part to hit, huh? Then the airliner vaporized itself into nothing but tiny unidentifiable pieces no bigger than a fist, unlike the crash of a real airliner when you will be able to see at least some identifiable parts, like crumpled wings, broken tail section etc. Why, Hani Hanjour the terrible pilot flew that airliner so good that even though he hit the Pentagon on the ground floor the engines didn't even drag the ground!! Imagine that!! Though the airliner vaporized itself on impact it only made a tiny 16 foot hole in the building. Amazing. Meanwhile, though the planes hitting the Twin Towers caused fires small enough for the firefighters to be heard on their radios saying "We just need 2 hoses and we can knock this fire down" attesting to the small size of it, somehow they must have used magical powers from beyond the grave to make this morph into a raging inferno capable of making the steel on all forty-seven main support columns (not to mention the over 100 smaller support columns) soften and buckle, then all fail at once. Hmmm. Then still more magic was used to make the building totally defy physics as well as common sense in having the uppermost floors pass through the remainder of the building as quickly, meaning as effortlessly, as falling through air, a feat that without magic could only be done with explosives. Then exactly 30 minutes later the North Tower collapses in precisely the same freefall physics-defying manner. Incredible. Not to mention the fact that both collapsed at a uniform rate too, not slowing down, which also defies physics because as the uppermost floors crash into and through each successive floor beneath them they would shed more and more energy each time, thus slowing itself down. Common sense tells you this is not possible without either the hijackers' magical powers or explosives. To emphasize their telekinetic prowess, later in the day they made a third building, WTC # 7, collapse also at freefall rate though no plane or any major debris hit it. Amazing guys these magical hijackers. But we know it had to be "Muslim hijackers" the conspiracy theorist will tell you because (now don't laugh) one of their passports was "found" a couple days later near Ground Zero, miraculously "surviving" the fire that we were told incinerated planes, passengers and black boxes, and also "survived" the collapse of the building it was in. When common sense tells you if that were true then they should start making buildings and airliners out of heavy paper and plastic so as to be "indestructable" like that magic passport. The hijackers even used their magical powers to bring at least seven of their number back to life, to appear at american embassies outraged at being blamed for 9/11!! BBC reported on that and it is still online. Nevertheless, they also used magical powers to make the american government look like it was covering something up in the aftermath of this, what with the hasty removal of the steel debris and having it driven to ports in trucks with GPS locators on them, to be shipped overseas to China and India to be melted down. When common sense again tells you that this is paradoxical in that if the steel was so unimportant that they didn't bother saving some for analysis but so important as to require GPS locators on the trucks with one driver losing his job because he stopped to get lunch. Hmmmm. Further making themselves look guilty, the Bush administration steadfastly refused for over a year to allow a commission to investigate 9/11 to even be formed, only agreeing to it on the conditions that they get to dictate its scope, meaning it was based on the false pretense of the "official story" being true with no other alternatives allowed to be considered, handpicked all its members making sure the ones picked had vested interests in the truth remaining buried, and with Bush and Cheney only "testifying" together, only for an hour, behind closed doors, with their attorneys present and with their "testimonies" not being recorded by tape or even written down in notes. Yes, this whole story smacks of the utmost idiocy and fantastic far-fetched lying, but it is amazingly enough what some people believe. Even now, five years later, the provably false fairy tale of the "nineteen hijackers" is heard repeated again and again, and is accepted without question by so many Americans. Which is itself a testament to the innate psychological cowardice of the American sheeple, i mean people, and their abject willingness to believe something, ANYTHING, no matter how ridiculous in order to avoid facing a scary uncomfortable truth. Time to wake up America.

Debunking Popular Mechanics lies:
someone else debunking Popular Mechanics crap:
still more debunking Poopular Mechanics:
and still more debunking of Popular Mechanics:

Neo-con 9/11 hit piece explodes, is retracted:
Poopular Mechanics staff replaced just before laughable “debunking” article written:
Professor Steven Jones debunks the N.I.S.T. “report” as well as the F.E.M.A. one and the 9/11 commission "report":
N.I.S.T. scientist interviewed:
F.B.I. says no hard evidence linking Osama bin Laden to 9/11 which is why his wanted poster says nothing about 9/11:
Fire Engineering magazine says important questions about the Twin Tower “collapses” still need to be addressed:http://fe.pennnet.com/Articles/Article_Display.cfm?Section=OnlineArticles&SubSection=Display&PUBLICATION_ID=25&ARTICLE_ID

Twin Towers’ construction certifiers say they should have easily withstood it:
USA Today interview with the last man out of the South Tower, pursued by a fireball:
Janitor who heard explosions and escaped has testimony ignored by 9/11 whitewash commission:
Janitor starts speaking out about it and his apartment is burglarized, laptop stolen:
Firefighters tell of multiple explosions:
Eyewitnesses tell of explosions:
Interview with another firefighter telling of explosions:
Firefighter saw “sparkles” (strobe lights on detonators?) before “collapse”:
Other eyewitnesses talk of seeing/hearing explosions:
Surviving eyewitnesses talk of multiple explosions there:
Cutter charge explosions clearly visible:
The pyroclastic wave (that dust cloud that a second before was concrete) and how it wouldn’t be possible without explosives:
Detailed description of the demolition of the Twin Towers:
Freefall rate of “collapses” math:
More about their freefall rate “collapses”:
Video footage of the controlled demolition of the Twin Towers:
Video footage of the controlled demolition of WTC # 7 building:
Photos of the Pentagon’s lawn (look at these and see if you can tell me with a straight face that a jumbo jet crashed there):
More photos of this amazing lawn at the Pentagon:
Very unconvincing fake “Osama” “confession” tape:
More about the fake “Osama” tape:
Fake “Mohammed Atta” “suicide” letter:
Commercial pilots disagree with “official” 9/11 myth:
More commercial jet pilots say “official” myth is impossible:
Impossibility of cell phone calls from United 93:
More about the impossible cell phone calls:
Experiment proves cell phone calls were NOT possible from anywhere near the altitude the “official” myth has them at:
Fake Barbara Olson phone call:
Where the hell was the Air Force?
More about the Air Force impotence question:
Sept. 10th 2001, Pentagon announces it is “missing” $2.3 trillion (now why do you think they picked THAT day to announce it? So it could be buried the next day by 9/11 news):
Unocal pipeline-through-Afghanistan plan:
Unocal pipeline-through-Afghanistan plan mentioned:
More on Unocal Afghan pipeline:
The attack on Afghanistan was planned in the summer of 2001, months before 9/11:
Pentagon deliberately misled 9/11 Commission:
9/11 whitewash Commission and NORAD day:
The incredible fish tales of the 9/11 Commission examined:
Jeb Bush declares state of emergency 4 days before 9/11 for Florida, saying it will help respond to terrorism:
Steel debris removal from Ground Zero, destruction of evidence:
Over two hundred incriminating bits of 9/11 evidence shown in the mainstream media:
Tracking the “hijackers”:
“Hijacker” patsies:
“Hijackers” receiving flight training at Pensacola Naval Air Station:
No Arabs on Flight 77:
Flight manifests (tell me if you find any Arabs):
Thirty experts say “official” 9/11 myth impossible:
“Al Qaeda” website tracks back to Maryland:
Al Qaeda videos uploaded from U.S. government website:
Operation: Northwoods, a plan for a false-flag “terror” attack to be blamed on Cuba to use it as a pretext to invade Cuba, thankfully not approved by Kennedy back in 1962 but was approved by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and sent to his desk:


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