Sunday, February 20, 2011

Objection Overruled

This piece describes what teachers do. Please understand that teaching is not a job but a lifestyle. Teachers live their jobs and their students are never far from their minds. I will never understand why teachers are not respected and valued. Teachers spend more time with children than their parents, wipe their tears, boost their wilting self esteem, cheer them on, advise them, push them, discipline them, help them make wise choices. We fall asleep worrying about them and wake up knowing we can help them.

Does it matter what teachers make? No teacher went into education for the money but when a football player makes more throwing or catching a ball than a 1st grade teacher who teaches a child to read, priorities are out of whack. Even worse, that football player gets more respect than people who have taught populations to read, analyze, compute, question, calculate and other skills so necessary for a productive, independent life.

In "Objection Overruled" someone disses teachers because they don't make much money. More often teachers are criticized because they make too much money. But the point of the article, to me, details why teachers are, at the very least, worth their paychecks.

Objection Overruled by Taylor Mali

He says the problem with teachers is, "What's a kid going to learn from someone who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher?" He reminds the other dinner guests that it's true what they say about teachers: Those who can, do; those who can't teach.

I decide to bite my tongue instead of his and resist the temptation to remind the other dinner guests that it's also true what they say about lawyers.

Because we're eating, after all, and this is polite company.

"I mean, you're a teacher, Taylor," he says. "Be honest. What do you make?"

And I wish he hadn't done that (asked me to be honest) because, you see, I have a policy about honesty and ass-kicking; if you ask for it, I have to let you have it.

You want to know what I make?

I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could. I can make a C+ feel like a Congressional medal of honor and an A- feel like a slap in the face. How dare you waste my time with anything less than your very best.

I make kids sit through 40 minutes of study hall in absolute silence. No, you may not work in groups. No, you may not ask a question. Why won't I let you get a drink of water? Because you're not thirsty, you're bored, that's why.

I make parents tremble in fear when I call home; I hope I haven't called at a bad time. I just wanted to talk to you about something Billy said today. Billy said, "Leave the kid alone. I still cry sometimes, don't you?" And it was the noblest act of courage I have ever seen.

I make parents see their children for who they are and what they can be.

You want to know what I make?

I make kids wonder, I make them question, I make them criticize. I make them apologize and mean it. I make them write, write, write. And then I make them read. I make them spell definitely beautiful, definitely beautiful, definitely beautiful over and over and over again until they will never misspell either of those words again. I make them show all their work in math. And hide it on their final drafts in English. I make them understand that if you got this (brains) then you follow this (heart) and if someone ever tries to judge you by what you make, you give them this (the finger).

Let me break it down for you, so you know what I say is true. I make a goddamn difference. What about you?