One of my favourite students has come back to me, and is doing his last year of English in high school. I love working with this student. This is the guy with a cognitive processing delay, the one who fell off Mount Olympus. We are very different people, but Endymion’s extremely easy to communicate with, and open to learning. He’s very sensitive, a little naive, and quite certain as to how he used to think the world was…
The students at his school are predominantly Asian, and of lower-to-middle class, frequently E.S.L. It is, quite honestly, one of the worst schools in the city. Teachers dread being sent there, and are desperate to leave. I don’t think there have been any English teachers who have survived this school for more than three years in a row.
Favourite student + terrible teachers = protective tutor
The theme for his course is Feminism in Literature. Endymion is not much for feminism. He’s Muslim. He’s religious. He doesn’t like rocking boats. So his teacher tells him to research Virginia Woolf and do a presentation on her.
You can guess how this went over. Endymion spent a lot of time looking at me with his mouth hanging open.
I give him a lot of credit: eventually, his mouth closed, and he has written an entirely passable presentation. He covered just about everything to do with Woolf and her contribution to feminist literature.
He even mentioned her suicide, and alluded to her mental health issues.
Basically, what he learned was Woolf was a writer for him to avoid at all costs. Not that she was a writer who would have appealed to him in the first place, but now there really isn’t a chance he’d voluntarily pick up her books. He’ll never read anything written by Lytton Strachey, or E.M. Forster (he would have liked Passage to India).
I realise the teachers have 30-some kids in each class, but if you’re teaching a mandatory course, you think you’d wanna know who you’re teaching. Teaching comes with too many opportunities to mess up. I’d like to avoid messing up as much as possible, which is why I changed the subject when he asked me how I knew so much about all these writers….