Tuesday, April 28, 2015

April 28: Daily Risks, Still Grading, Getting Tired

...Having earned a master's degree in literature from Columbia, [Annie Ives] was now working toward a doctorate in nineteenth-century English literature, though she figured it would take her forever.  So she would teach once in a while in certain schools, even when she and Ives did not need the money, and rather than taking daily risks in the city schools, which, by her light, seemed to be getting worse and worse, she preferred to find ways to bring art and literature to the local community; she spent half her free time writing grants to the government, so that they could do something for the kids, meeting with their local congressional rep, and trying to get the State Arts Council to send visiting writers and artists to talk to the kids at schools like P.S. 125.

Annie Ives is a jaded optimist.  She tries to change the world.  When she's younger, she substitute teaches in the New York public school system.  As she ages, she loses her wide-eyed enthusiasm for bringing Charles Dickens into the lives of inner-city youth.  It's a dangerous profession, trying to instill hope in kids whose homes are broken, sometimes irrevocably.

My wife was a substitute teacher for many years.  When we first married, she subbed in inner-city schools in Kalamazoo.  Some of the students were tough.  Unwed mothers smelling of marijuana.  Young men in gangs.  It was dangerous work.

I have never had to face that kind of danger in the classroom.  I've dealt with drunk students.  Sleeping students.  Suicidal students.  Wildly out-of-control bipolar students.  But I've never feared for my life.  I care about my students.  A lot.  That's why I find grading so difficult.  I don't want to see any of my "kids" fail.

Yes, I'm still grading, and I'm getting tired of it.  But, as Robert Frost said, I have miles to go before I sleep.  Miles and miles.  So many miles, I should get frequent flyer credits.

Saint Marty needs to get back to his stack of final exams.

This pretty much says it all

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