30 January 2013

When I Taught Middle School


I crashed into the classroom. Clanging, clanking, kalumphing. I cluttered the class with my words that piled up into the noise that rambled through the room as the young minds dawdled and dabbled somewhat into what I was saying but stopped at times to prolong their adolescence with mind games and trivial natterings about Yusef and Tina and that dude from the other school as they pondered pixies and the resultant dust. So strong.

So strong was the melody they whacked in those brains of fertile earth dust. I passed out paper and pleaded for perfection though willing to settle -- most gladly -- for seconds of silence and faux efforts to do assignments of radiant tedium as the day broke silently over the prodigious Berkeley Hills and minions sighed at my efforts.

“Can I use a pen to do this?” Tom asked. Snickers.

“Yes. Any other questions?” Hoping of course not so that I could indulge my whimsies as they busied their bee like brains with the twaddle I’d given. Oh Corinthians of understanding. Bow slowly to me so that I may make it through this period and sidle up to the next. Text. Read and decide. Or feed and deride. Just don’t fight, my classroom of idiots and savants.

Students finished too soon and the mental fidgeting was cacophonous. Plan B in inaction. Textbook. Pages. Read. Discuss. Questions on board. Groups. I play the role of the wandering monitor (wondering monitor?). Check in. Nod approval. Their voices spit out nonsense with no stuff -- where gone the days of stuff and nonsense, off somewhere with the sound and fury that signified everything, no doubt -- shout. Those rascals race their mouths until the bell rings. I bide their time. More nodding. More shushing. More re-directing. More contemplation. Why here, now, me? When did I go wrong? The riches I had promised myself as a youth are nowhere to be found. I -- internally -- laugh bitterly as they call out to me. Make this easy. Make this fun. Make this challenging. Make this go away. I am off in dreamland as the dismissal bell echoes its happy song through the classroom, in the halls and to the heavens (more than one heaven?).

Heavens me!

Another group shuffles into the classroom. Glum. Dumb. Resigned. My happy smile is pure fakery. Bakery dither dee doo.

I greet and meat. I assign. They tumble to the work blathering this and that and that and this and more of this then more of that.

Incinerated. The gaseous bellows of the young howlers poured through the room as I beseeched for quiet in lieu of this riot. Theft of decency was rampant as the foul spewings spewed and desks scraped against brains at once deadened by television and hot wired by sugar. The bleatings blathered and so I gathered the thoughts that did forsake them. Soon the lesson I did compel though try as they might they could no repel. The students of prudence held aloft their banners of matriculation as they grasped for freedom for their generation.

The causes of the Civil War. Spoken in a room that duplicated the sounds of Gettysburg. Carnage the same too. Mere madness caused me sadness as papers were passed as was gas. I tried in stentorian pronouncements to make clear their bad behaviors denouncements. Still they railed.

The curious did listen their pates a glisten. I intoned as the bored groaned and the latter day mighty mights phoned. Laughs.

Hands were raised with questions. There were answers proffered and ignored. More and more grew bored. If it was 1971 again I would be happily trodding the streets, long hair swaying feeling the oats of my youth and ready for anything. I would be looking for love and a way to get high and a soccer game and a friend and adventure. But it was over 30 years later and so....This scruffy lot besieged my brain and I delicately maneuvered from angry child to depressed child to manic child to future Rhodes Scholar to ordinary kid and I did I or did I not offer a clever lesson on the causes of the Civil War. A thousand times yes.

So to the end of the class when another group came in ad infinitum. Item, sight em. How I blight em. On until lunch and munch munch munch and say, how am I doin?

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