Years ago, I was a high school teacher. Although it wasn't for me, I still think back on those days and wonder what could have been...actually, what the hell am I saying? I despised my time in the classroom with a burning passion. My last day of teaching was the best day of my life. This being said, I have incredible respect for teachers. Teaching is the hardest thing I've ever done. The pay sucked, my students wanted me dead, and I had to wake up at an ungodly hour every morning. As far as I'm concerned, good teachers should be given the respect of heroes. These people change lives every single day, yet get so little in return. You all might want to think about that now that the holiday season is upon us...(hint, hint).
I was an English teacher, but I ended up in charge of a class that was sort of a credited study hall. There was no curriculum, no rules about what needed to be taught. It was a free period, but it was deemed by the higher-ups that I needed to teach the kids something. I decided to make it as interesting as possible, since no one wanted to be there, myself included. Over the course of the year, I made a lot of mistakes in planning out curriculum: my sex ed classes ended up becoming a contest of who could bring in the vilest photos of advanced STDs. We did projects on urban legends, peer pressure, celebrity culture...anything to pass the hour without having anything thrown at me.
One day I awoke with a burning question: why aren't the basic rules of etiquette taught in schools? As Miss Manners-ish as it sounds, I thought it would be a great idea to teach the kids how to act at a fancy dinner party. I thought some research might do some good for me, as well-I still had no idea how to tell my forks apart. I was so excited about this idea, but as everything else I planned that year, my efforts crashed and burned as my students threw food around and complained about me. Oh, well.
As I overheard my students in the hallways, I found myself growing disheartened about the state of the world today. I know I sound like a grumpy old man, but it is true: kids today tend to have very little respect for elders. I don't remember having a door held for me the entire time I taught. It wasn't all bad, of course; I had three or four students that I adored, and they almost made my career choice worthwhile. Well, not really, but if there were a few more of them, maybe. Anyway, I began to wonder why we spend so much time and energy investing in a student's knowledge of math and science, while neglecting the most important subject: common courtesy. We shouldn't have to have classes on basic steps of courtesy, such as holding doors, saying "thank you," or just not being a jackass...but maybe we do. Maybe we need to spend as much time cultivating our students morally as we do academically.
This being said, last night an old roommate sent a link to my blog, and I absolutely love it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tUgidl9wEZ0
I'm so happy to see that there are teachers like her out there, who have the same idea! If we had more of this sort of education in the classroom, maybe we would have less bullying, more random acts of selflessness, more kids who take pride in being polite and kind and decent...you know, the stuff that actually matters.