Teaching really has its moments. There are times you strive for, and there are times you have to be patient. There are also times when students say things that make you question why education is a good idea. Is everybody worth teaching?
Most of the time, I just take a deep breath and remind myself that I can help students with their ignorance even if I can’t help them with gross stupidity.
It comes down to the fact that teachers are mentors. Which periodically makes us confessors after a fashion. Teachers do like to share the things said to them.
Here are some fairly commonplace statements:
Will I ever use this?
No, I’m teaching you stuff for purely whimsical reasons. Or maybe because it is a precursor to more practical skills. Although you can avoid needing advanced mathematics if you want to spend your life working in fast food. Good luck with that.
Did we do anything important in class last time?
Sorry, I’m afraid we just talked about the latest episode of [sitcom] followed by a brisk discussion of [sportsball]. We delayed relaying important information or having skill related discussions until you returned to class.
Do I need to take the test?
You are a grown up. You can decide to take the test or get a zero and fail.
You know, this class has made me start smoking again.
Aw shucks. Students say the sweetest things. I feel the same way about you sometimes.
Some statements are in an entirely different league:
I’m not really getting this stuff, but I think its because I’m really high right now.
I think I figured out your difficulty in class. Your education should start with your life choices. Would “sobriety” work for a homework assignment?
I couldn’t do my homework because my husband is home now and keeps expecting me to perform my ‘wifely’ duties.
I honestly couldn’t tell whether she was complaining or bragging. She was definitely trying to get me to give her extensions on her homework though.
Note: bragging about you sex life will not garner you sympathy or get you out of doing work.
I know it’s the last week, but can I turn in all of the homework and makeup all of the tests?
I have to admit, this was my all time favorite. In large part because I was able to look him straight in the eye and say: “No, you cannot make up the entire class in the last week. You skipped all of the tests, and attended less than half of the classes. There is no way for you to pass the class. I honestly don’t know why you bothered showing up this week. If you decide to retake the class, you will need to show up.”
Sometimes, I am laughing with you. I make no promises though, I may laugh at you. Be honored that I listened.