Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Career move, anyone?

I know. I am a teacher and therefore if any way I "whine," some community member will remind me of the benefits, the days off, and the simplicity of teaching his son. But after today, I am willing to take the risk of some anonymous commentor who is clearly much more informed about my job than I am.
Finals start tomorrow. This means a high stress level for my seniors even though I promised I wouldn't make the final too difficult. We've been studying grammar for the last week and a half. To be more specific, we've looked at the ten sentence patterns that 95% of all sentences fall into. Many times in the last week I have told my students that in the grand scheme of life and all of the important information they will learn in high school, this stuff is fairly low on the list. The importance of studying sentence patterns is simply to make students aware of their own writing process. Yes, I want my students to be absolutely certain that every word they put down in an essay has a purpose and is connected to another word or phrase in the sentence.
If better proofreading is the best a student gets from a week long look at "NP1 + transitive verb + NP2 + NP2," then it has been worth it. So, if I have to listen to one more student tell me how pointless the last week has been, I might just find something new to do with my time.
I get it. They don't enjoy analyzing sentences. But believe me, if they could only see how poorly they write at times, they might.... Ahh, never mind. No they won't. They don't care. They don't care because no one has made them care. They've been passed along and told how nice they are and that the earned an "A for effort."
But alas, in these moments of utter dispair and frustration--and that isn't an exaggeration--I come to realize that there isn't anything else I'd rather do. Yes, I would find a way to enjoy sports photography or sports journalism, but in the end, would I be as satisified as I was the day that one student told me, "Mr. McNamar, you're a good teacher," and meant it? I doubt it. Unfortunately, not enough kids appreciate what we do. They're too busy complaining about my final to care that this job takes me away from my wife and kids more than it should. They're too wrapped up in their blanket of child centered self-esteem parades to realize that we are human also and that sometimes our self-esteem is being drudged through the swamp.
Don't feel sorry for me, though; I made the test more difficult--by the way, that is a Pattern 9 sentence after the semi-colon.


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