02 November 2007

A Letter from Teacher Annalog

Dear Student,

I do not hate you. On your best days, you are bright, lively, insightful, and fun. On your bad days, too many days, you are duplicitous little mice, who make me regret giving you any cookies.

I hate that you tear at my heart with your pleading eyes and woeful sighs, begging me to give you just five more minutes to study the vocabulary you should have studied at home, or in the car, or while you were eating pizza with your friends. I hate that your stories about how you only got four hours of sleep or how you are overwhelmed with homework are evident on your weary faces. I hate that I inevitably give you your five minutes.

I hate that you beg me to play more games like hangman or watch movies in class, just like your old teacher used to do. I hate that I sacrifice precious, unpaid hours, researching and preparing lessons that are challenging, yet fun and interesting, instead of sleeping in, watching old Top Model reruns, making use of my expensive gym membership, or writing on my blog! I hate that I excitedly bring you a book that I think you'll enjoy because it's scary and has a lot of cuss words, but then you tell me it's too boring and too long after only reading twenty pages. I hate that I spend so much time looking for fun essay topics like, "If you could have any fictional character as your roommate, who would you pick and why?" and you complain that it's too hard because there are just too many options. I hate that I throw in a Mad Lib or a brief game of vocab pictionary when I know morale is low.

I hate that I go easy on you, because I know that your teachers hit you when you misbehave in your day school. I hate that you go home, and tell your mother that the teacher is too lax and does not know how to maintain order in the classroom. I hate that you are the very one who begged me to let the class play! play! play! I hate that you quit my class to go to another academy that definitely won't let you play!, play, or play.

I hate that I understand the parental and societal pressures that drive you. I hate that empathy causes me to focus on all your positive qualities, and positively spin your flaws. I hate that my generous evaluations lead you to believe that you are better than you are. I hate that you (and your mom) surreptitiously convince the front office to move you up a level, when I would have advised otherwise. I hate that you think you are advanced just because you can compose a sentence without error. I hate that you think you're capable of a harder class when you can't produce a proper thesis or analyze literature beyond the obvious. I hate that you want to run a marathon, when you're still learning to walk.

I hate your parents and cultural upbringing for instilling you with the belief that education is a means of getting ahead in life, and not that learning is a way of life. I hate that your privileged life has awarded you a sense of entitlement. Education is not your divine right. It's a privilege. I hate that I can understand why you are the way that you are, but that the American side of me won't easily let me accept that you're the way that you are.

I hate that my kindness and sympathy are seen as weaknesses. I hate that I seek your approval just as much as I want to be a good teacher.

On most days, I do not hate you. I honestly enjoy the challenge of getting you excited about reading and writing in English, and introducing you to new works of literature. On most days, I don't mind giving up sleep, Tyra, or yoga. Sadly, this is not one of those days.

I hope that one day I will be inspired to write you a love letter, but today, I wanted you to know that Teacher is disappointed and a little angry. What's that word I thought you the other day? Fuming.

fume [fyoom] verb to show fretful irritation or anger: The teacher is fuming.

Teacher Annalog


yks said...

Keep up the good work teacher ANNALOG.

Anonymous said...

wow...your letter brings back so much memories of when i taught in korea.

on one of my "bad days" at a hagwon, one of my students told me in so many words that i was a bad teacher, and defensively i told him he was a bad student. that no matter how "good" i or any other teacher before or after me will be, as long as he was "unwilling" to learn it didn't matter, because they will be all the same to him. to this day, i wonder from time to time (though less and less frequent as time passes on - aka old age) whether he was accepted into the college he wanted to attend. and i do regret telling him he was a bad student, because just as he was quick to judge me, i did the same when i shouldn't have.

all i can say is, "him neh!"... and though you teach as a profession, you are first and foremost a student of life. so live and learn!

js unnie