Wednesday, April 4, 2012


My sister's favorite movie is "Idiocracy" with Maya Rudolph and Luke Wilson. I say it's her favorite because she always brings it up whenever the conversation leans toward movie talk. This summer, Jeffrey and I finally sat down and watched it, if nothing else but to be able to carry on a conversation with her. While I wouldn't say it's my favorite (though Jeffrey loved it), that film really brought to light some things I'm seeing in my classroom as well as some fears I have about Jude's upcoming school years.

The basic plot of the movie goes like this. The US military freezes one male and one female of perfectly average intelligence. The whole operation is shut down with the two forgotten about until years later. When the two unfreeze, they find themselves in a future where no one thinks for themselves, everything is done by simply pushing a button or scanning in their tatooed IDs, people live in their own filth, and crops are dried up. All of a sudden, this average male and female become the smartest people on earth.

A crappy plot summary done on my part, I realize, but my gist is that I see this every day where I work. No one wants to think for themselves. Everything must be done for them. Oh, and should someone absolutely have to produce something on his own, by God, it better be easy!

My job consists of making sure that these folks become productive citizens, not a bunch of idiots who think watering the Earth with Gatorade and its electrolyte goodness will produce plentiful crops. As a result, I take no crap from my students (or at least I try not to take crap). Therefore, one wouldn't consider me the most popular instructor to grace the halls of Holmes. I would be lying if I said this didn't bother me. It does bother me. It bothers me as much as it bothered me in junior high to wear thick glasses and my sister's hand-me down clothes that were cool when she was in junior high but had run their course by the time my two year early adolescent sentence rolled around. The only difference between now and then--no one teases me relentlessly anymore (that and I am slightly prettier).

Now I could always change. I could accept fragmented answers from students instead of expecting them to answer a question fully. I could just throw out the essay assignments altogether and provide Scantron tests instead. I could overlook any grammatical/spelling/punctuation errors. I could allow texting language. I could not say a word when students show up unprepared.

I could quit caring.

It would be easy.

However, my convictions to produce quality work and never give up trump any desires I ever had to be popular. I did not have an easy life. I don't mean my life sucked; it didn't. However, I have endured some suffering from time to time, and I chose to claw my way back to normalcy rather than dwell in the cesspool of self pity. With a little problem solving, aggression, and creativity, I'm exactly where I want to be now--gainfully employed and happily married with child. I have everything I need and some/most of what I want.

I want the same for anyone who sits in my classroom under my instruction. I want the same for Jude as well. In fact, I want it more for him. He is, after all, an extension of me (bless his heart). Therefore, no crap will I take. Call me mean, difficult, intimidating, and whatever other adjectives I see on student evaluations, but in a few years, I suspect, as it happens now, a few will send me letters thanking me for the alleged hell I'd put them through. It absolutely pains me to think some of my students will never change. Some will never try to think for themselves or appreciate having an opportunity to try. However, I'm not going to give up. This thing I do--it's my calling for two reasons. (1.) This thing I have--the will to challenge and press forward even when it's hard--that's my gift to the whomever comes in contact with me. (2.) My willingness to go into a tough (though one I love) job each day and come out smiling most days is the example I set for my child--my gift to him.

If idiots roam the world, I can assure you it's not because I didn't try my damndest to change the ones who came in my path!