The Blackboard Jungle

days spent beating back the seeds of doubt

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

In the last weeks of the graduating year group's educational career, melancholy and fondness set in. This year, my classes are inherited from other teachers who could not or would not stay, and I've not many students with whom familiarity has allowed fondness.
That leaves melancholy. I look out at a class for whom I've practised essay structure, revised Steinbeck's figurative language and characterisation, for whom I explained how to employ and ironically echo the sonnet form, whom I showed how to use talk to persuade, to discover, and to bring things alive.
Exam skills. Essay skills.
Social grease.

I taught them nothing really. Not how to think or feel, or protect themselves or survive.

I read silly notes passed in class that wonder when their last lesson will come, the eternal inevitable impatience of youth to be out of it, to be gone from there, to be done with childhood.

In the days before they go, I always find myself regretting what I've allowed 'school' to be for.
Please excuse the futility of my feeling this way.
Who is it whom I address,
who takes down what I confess?
Are you the teachers of my heart?
We teach old hearts to rest.

Oh teachers are my lessons done?
I cannot do another one.
They laughed and laughed and said, Well child,
are your lessons done?
are your lessons done?
are your lessons done?

Leonard Cohen ~ 'Teachers'