I had planned on blogging about something else this week. But then a conversation with one of the teenagers brought this phrase to mind: “Some teachers are bad.”
Of course, when I think of that phrase, I hear it (in my head) in Cate Blanchett’s voice from Hanna – just how she says the line, “Sometimes, children are bad people, too.” Watch her deliver that line in the official trailer at about 2:10 (YouTube).
But, I digress.
So, I was listening to a frustrated teenager complain about one of his teachers. Now, I am a teacher so I often take the side of the teachers in any conversation. And, in the particular circumstance, I was trying to get said teenager to recognize that he won’t always agree with the criticism he receives but that he should take it willingly and with a good attitude. He said that he figured that college teachers would be better than high school teachers, to which I sighed heavily.
I had to explain to him that this wouldn’t be the last time he felt “disappointed” by a teacher and that, while most teachers really are trying their best, sometimes the disappointment would be warranted. As an undergrad, I had a teacher tell me I’d never be a good writer if I didn’t become an alcoholic or cocaine addict. Since I wanted to be “a writer,” that really stung. In law school, a professor told me I could never have a family and a successful career. It was a female professor, and I was pregnant at the time. Some teachers are just bad. And some aren’t bad but are having bad days. Lord knows I’ve had bad days as a teacher. I can only hope I’ve never said something that stung a student though.
I told him to focus on the teachers he remembers for good reason. One English professor of mine had such an impact on me, I told her I was going to name a child after her one day. And I did. She challenged me and encouraged me and helped me to strip down some of those roadblocks I threw up for myself after the alcoholic comment from semesters before. There’s another English professor (go figure that many of my faves were teaching that subject) who I can still see in my mind’s eye, practically bouncing in front of the class as she animatedly shares her love of Renaissance lit. I fondly recall her every single time I hear or see anything Shakespeare-related.
So, it isn’t the first time and won’t be the last time that he feels let down or even jilted by a teacher. But I’m confident there will be way more good teachers for him, maybe even some namesakes.