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

Friday, November 11, 2011

The (Mis)adventures of Yo-yo Boy

One of the things the Petty Bureaucrats Who Think They Know All don't get about teaching-- among many, many, many, MANY things!-- is the emotional care and guidance teachers expend upon their students. This part of the student-teacher relationship has very little to do (in an obvious way) about test scores and yet it cannot be ignored.

One of my students is Yo-yo Boy. Yo-yo Boy's dad and mom are not in the picture, but YYB does have a cousin and her husband. YYB has some issues: he will lie absolutely to your face, he will steal anything not nailed down, he has a trillion excuses and a healthy self-pitying martyr complex for any failures on his part, he is absolutely mesmerized by the presence of female persons without having the minutest idea of how to appropriately interact with them. Worse, he is a victim of the rankest social promotion on the part of a neighboring school district that I have ever seen-- to the extent that he was (non)functionally illiterate when we first got him in our high school. Yo-yo Boy has bounced around from home to home, school to school, suspension to suspension.

It is my happy duty to teach this young fella. It is also my happy duty to impart the following wisdom, in the order in which it occurred:
1) Ms. Cornelius does NOT want to know the color of your underwear, and neither does anyone else.
2) Grabbing the derriere of a young lady you do not know does NOT enamor her of you and will indeed get you suspended.
3) The secret to passing a class is to... get this!-- do the assignments, study for tests and quizzes, and pay attention in class.
4) The preliminary secret to #3 is to bring a pencil, your assignments, and a book to class every day. Without fail.
5) Dudes do not carry purses in our neck of the woods, so having one in your possession will cause you to get jugged for stealing.
6) Do not mouth off to the people providing you with shelter or fight with their own children, or you will get thrown out of the house, even if they love you.
7) You are not a bad enough mamma- jamma to make it on the streets for even five seconds, so pay attention to #6.
8) You will get fired from your job if you do not show up on time, so yes, Ms. Cornelius counts tardies. Plus, you do not be engaging in #2 or #5 so that you then violate #8.
9) Ms. Cornelius will cross-check every single thing you tell her, so don't even bother to lie.
10) If you do not understand, ask.

Sadly, Yo-yo Boy violated #6 one too many times. I do not know if I will see him again.

Or he could turn up tomorrow.

That's just part of the teaching life in a real public school, where testing is sometimes the least measure of our worth.

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