This I Believe

Samira - New York, New York
Entered on July 26, 2007

On Teaching

I don’t really write about teaching.

I guess that’s understandable.

I guess you should understand.

After all, I

breathe it

sleep it

drink it

eat it

feel it

touch it

taste it

bite it

hold it

dream it

smell it

snort it

hear it

shoot it up

so it enters my blood and sticks to my guts

like the Cuban food at La Caridad.

I live it. And after seven years, I know the myths.

Myth #1

I will teach for five years—only—

then I will get my PhD.

(Urban) Myth #2

All the girls in my class say they will be married.

(Ms. Ahmed why don’t you have kids? Aren’t you like 30?)

At 26, a baby on the way, the first of two,

but definitely not more than two

because then you end up on welfare

and too many children wear you down and you can’t party anymore.

Hell yeah, you can still booty dance in your 30s.

Should I tell them?

Should I be the one to burst the bubble

inflated by Teen and Glamour and the Backstreet Boys?

I don’t know if that’s my job—

should I be the one who reminds them that the bills have to be paid,

that independence has a cost,

that a studio apartment is a steal at $1500 a month

which leaves just enough for 3 Saturdays a month of drinking

as long as you find some chump to by the 2nd and 3rd and 4th?

Should I save them the trouble

and let them know that those same guys who whip out

their billfolds (among other things)

are not so swift to change that cash into a ring and a commitment?

And the odds are against them.

(Suburban) Myth #3

All the girls in my class say they will be married at 26

with a baby on the way.

And wouldn’t it be so cute if they lived in a cul-de-sac

with all of their best friends?

And their prom date husbands could all play football

with the kids while the wives gossip over

picnic tables and potato salad and Jello with fruit in it.

Should I tell them?

Should I be the one who tells them that boyfriends

from high school are soon forgotten

and that the virile football quarterback with a rippling six pack

soon enough has a beer gut and hair growing out of his ears?

Should I save them the trouble

and let them know suburban homes have yards

that need to be mowed and weeded and sidewalks that need

to be shoveled even when you’re pregnant

and the man you lie next to every night is out of town

in a hotel room with the blue light of pay-per-view

glazing over his eyes?

Some of the odds are against them, too.

Myth #4

Don’t we all love the smell of fresh apples?

But why, if they are the forbidden fruit

do we give them to teachers?

Because they sprang from the tree of knowledge,

like kids in a class.

And if knowledge is forbidden,

what does that say about education?

Myth #5

Entropy oozes into the classroom

through the cracks that need plastering,

under doors, and around school monitors.

It doesn’t check in with the security guard

or sign its name in the guest book.

Entropy brings on the yawns,

eyes fixated on chalk lines until each speck

of dust becomes a million molecules of boredom,

maybe even ennui (if any one was energetic enough to fetch the thesaurus).

Myth #6

All teachers love tote bags and where stirrup pants.

On my first day of teaching, I make a vow

and make my roommate swear she will kill me

if I break it.

I will not own, nor ever wear seasonally appropriate

appliqué sweatshirts.

Or yellowblackblueredviolet stirrups.

Or worntiredbutIcanstillusethem loafers.

I will avoid, by any means necessary,

tote bags with Shakespeare quotes on them,

or even Byron, or Bronte or Joyce.

I will remember that I am 22.

And can still go out on weeknights.

And drink until the wee hours.

And most definitely, I will never, ever

walk into a happy hour

as a totebaglugging, appliquesweathshirtwearing,

comfortableshoetying, poorgrammarcorrecting, endlesslyShakespearequoting


Myth #7

Sex in the classroom is exotic.

In the bar scene, teaching causes a stir.

Automatic come-ons and tired lines.

Not to be confused by the automatic come-ons and tired lines

inspired by mere gender.

But the teacher in me compels the male mind to meander

back to 9th grade and

Ms. Jensen

who was hot

who was young

and whose ass sashayed across the room

as she did her clean-the-board-sensually dance.

Many a hard on. Many a listless night.

Then the lines:

I didn’t have any teachers that looked like you when I was in school.

If I had a teacher that looked like you, I’d never get my work done.

If I had a teacher that looked like you, I’d do all my work.

If I had a teacher that looked like you, I’d always want to stay after class.

Then the questions:

Do the boys hit on you?

Do you ever think of any of the boys are hot? not one?

If I’m bad will you make me stay after class?

Can you get into school late at night?

Have you ever done it in a classroom?

The Reality

Aristotle. Philosophy of Education 364.

Your actions become your habits and your habits become your character.

Teaching makes you good.

This I believe.