Thursday, August 5, 2010

Lesson 4. On English Teachers

I am avoiding writing AP handouts (on the joys of close reading).

I am a phenomenal procrastinator. I clean. I cook. I exercise.

And eventually, I put on the tv (my favorite!).

This time, what do I see? An ad for Easy A.

Basic plot: Girl fakes having sex with unpopular boys to gain some notoriety but winds up brandished a la Scarlet Letter for her sins.

Of course, it has the quintessential English teacher in it.

All high school movies have the quintessential English teacher in them.

Even Boy Meets World, Gilmore Girls and Saved By the Bell had them.

Never Been Kissed? Check. Dangerous Minds? Check. Dead Poets's Society? Check. The Emperor's Club? Check. Renaissance Man? Check. Freedom Writers? Check. 10 Things I Hate About You? Check.

What did they have in common?

Great clothes. No teacher could afford them. No teacher could spend a day in those heels. Or afford those outfits. And the perfect hair and makeup? Do they not get up at 5:30 like I do?

Great classrooms. Practically auditoriums. Bright and beautiful. Hip and fun. With busts of Old Bill standard.

Great students. Their lessons were always something out of a college English classroom. Clearly these kids have no trouble with writing or spelling or vocabulary. And all of them do their homework and understand Shakespeare. They are beyond Shakespeare. They have been writing sonnets since age 6 for fun. These teachers can ask tough questions and not worry about an "I don't get it."

Great curriculums. And by great, I mean non-existent.

I worry sometimes that this could be at least partially why I became an English teacher (because it certainly wasn't my long love affair with grammar, which is nonexistent).

And what do these images tell me time and time again?

Kids love English.

Screenwriters especially.

If I am not reaching the kids, it is because I am neither hip enough nor fun enough. I should rap or throw away the curriculum and let the kids do what inspires them. This is where the greatness and self-motivation will come in.

And, at the end of my day, I should hop into my ultrahip convertible, or on my even cooler motorcycle, drive to my local beatnik hangout, and sip coffee.

Though, at least - admittedly - an English teacher gets more love than a language teacher. Those are always shown as being a little nuts. Or maybe that is just Clueless talking.

1 comment:

  1. You're local beatnik hang out is borders...which is hip enough, i think.