High School Teachers Giving Permission
When I was in college, I felt like I was walking into hell when I stepped into my required philosophy class. I even went to the head of the education department to complain that it was a waste of time. Empirical evidence, metaphysical evidence, blah, blah, blah. I absolutely did not see any reason for learning about these things.
Then, I became a high school teacher. Why should that change my mind about a college class I despised? Easy… that class taught me how to deal with all types of arguments and philosophies.
Working with teenagers, I quickly found they could argue with a wall and convince me that the sun rose in the west and set in the east. Oh yes, they are that GOOD! I should have realized that was the purpose of the class since I was the smart aleck and arguing student who constantly wanted to throw my teachers off task (I have apologized to all of them since becoming a teacher).
Anyway, I am one of those teachers who wants to teach and fly under the radar as far as administration goes. In other words, do a good job so the bosses will not ask questions. I follow school rules, I enforce rules in my classroom, and I try to make sure students leave my class with the skills they will need for their next step in school or college or life in general. I try not to send them to the office. Only if there is no other alternative will I send a kid to the principal's office.
Sense of Humor in the Classroom
One year, I was teaching sophomores. My favorite class had three boys who constantly wanted to throw me off track, and the class loved it. Sometimes, I would let this type of behavior pass because the boys were good kids and never inappropriate, and it made class fun. Of course, I never let them off the hook for their assignments, and I insisted they understand what they were doing before I allowed interruptions. The boys respected me and understood where the line was drawn in the sand, or so I thought.
One of the boys, Cody, had a deep Southern accent, which I am not sure how that happened because he grew up in Southwest Missouri just like me. He was funny and clever. His buddy, Jonas, was laid back with a dry sense of humor. The third buddy, Justin, was the “rocker” who was extremely respectful and charming.
“Hey, Mrs. H, can we have a couch in here?” Cody asked one day.
“Well, Cody, I don’t have a couch to put in the room.” I replied, not realizing I was being set up.
Jonas said, “Oh, that’s all right. Justin has a couch.”
Justin nodded and said, “My mom would love you forever if you let us bring it in.”
I said, “Well, I don’t know. I am not sure administration would like it.”
All three of them start in at once with, “Oh come on!” “Who cares what they want?” “Why would a couch be a problem with them?” Typical teenage arguments.
I decided the “wise” thing to do was put it back on them.
“All right, all right,” I said. “If you can get it passed the administration, I am fine with it. But, you have to run it by them first.” I thought my instructions were very clear.
The Deed is Done
The next day I came in and there was a couch in the back of my room. The boys eventually came in, and they were heroes in the eyes of their peers. I said, “So the administration approved?”
Cody pipes up, “You said we had to get it passed them, so we did.”
“What do you mean?” I asked with a demanding tone.
“Well,” in his slow Southern drawl, “we came at 5:30 this morning, the janitors let us in, and the administrators weren’t here.”
“Cody!” I squawked.
The other boys gave low giggles. I had been had. My head turned at the speed of a bullet to look at Jonas and Justin. They stopped giggling but there was still laughter in their eyes.
Jonas said, “You said get it passed the administration, and so we did.”
“You boys know what I meant.” I said. My philosophy class was coming back to me. Damn that empirical evidence part of the argument. I totally screwed that up.
“You said run it passed them, so we did. We ran it passed their offices,” said charming, Justin.
“Oh brother!” I said. By this time, the humor was bubbling up inside of me. What sharp kids, and I did it to myself.
They were so proud of themselves. I could only stand in amazement. Then I had to laugh at them and myself.
The lesson learned: Be very careful how you word instructions to teenagers. My philosophy class really came crashing down on my head over that incident. I also had a much greater appreciation for philosophical arguments because teens can twist any words and can bring up the most minute things in a passage or discussion.
Students will keep you on your toes. I love my teaching job! Always something new and never dull.
In conclusion, the administrators thought the boys were pretty clever and they were fine with me having a couch in my room. Whew!
© 2011 Susan Holland