We saw the Hunger Games today (for the 2nd time – loved it) and afterward went to eat lunch at a favorite diner. It was packed so we took seats at the counter, which meant there were two women in a booth directly behind me & Ben. They were in the midst of a long and loud conversation – so loud that what we heard could not really be construed as eavesdropping. And when I say conversation I’m using the term loosely. For the most part the one woman listened while the other spoke. What she said went something like this:
Woman #1, a teacher: They’re all a bunch of hooligans. It’s unbelievable what I have to deal with. You wouldn’t believe these kids. And at seven years old!
Woman #2: (Makes some sort of sympathetic noise)
Woman #1: [Name of child] is the worst. She doesn’t get along with anyone else in the class.
Woman #2: Why is that?
Woman #1: She has serious emotional problems. She needs to be seeing a psychiatrist on a full time basis.
Woman #2: What does she do?
Woman #1: For the first two months of the year, she cried every morning after being dropped off. At SEVEN years old! Can you believe that? Sometimes she yells, and when she’s in line she jostles the other kids. I pull her out and make her stand at the back.
Woman #2: That’s awful.
Woman #1: AND she cheated on a spelling test. I didn’t see her, but one of the other kids did, and since these kids can’t wait to tattle on each other, he told me she was cheating. I walked to her desk and she had the spelling book open! Well, I took her paper away, ripped it up in front of the class and gave her a zero.
Woman #2: Have you spoken to the parents?
Woman #1: Yes, and of course they said some BS about “taking care of it”, but nothing will change. That kid is trouble.
Woman #2: Can you request a different class next year?
Woman #1: (Snorts loudly) Please. I spoke to [names the principal], but she’s a piece of s#&t.
(At this point, woman #1 launched into a long diatribe about her rights as a union member and lots of stuff I couldnt’ really follow about how she can’t leave or the principal will “have something” on her, but she ended with, “They’ll have to pry my cold dead hands off that classroom before I’ll leave voluntarily – unless they give me the position I want.”)
Woman #2: That’s horrible. You know, I’ve had a terrible time of it at work lately, too.
Woman #1: So you hate the hospital as much as I hate the school?
Now, I know not all teachers feel this way, and I don’t normally discuss teachers specifically when discussing schooling. Teachers are part of the machine that is compulsory schooling, and even if they don’t agree with the system as it is, there is not much they can do. (I refer you to John Taylor Gatto’s Teacher of the Year Acceptance Speech for details.)
But this woman, this teacher I heard speaking today with such vitriol about her students, those seven year old “hooligans”, does not deserve to receive a paycheck. She did not have one positive thing to say about any of the children in her class. The loathing in her voice when she said the girl cried every morning was almost more than I could stand, and at one point I seriously considered turning around and “joining” the conversation. (It’s probably a good thing that I didn’t.)
Joshua always says that blame gets you nowhere, and he’s right.
However, when I think of those poor kids, sentenced to be in the same room every day all day with a woman who feels nothing for them but contempt, I am tempted to make an exception.