In person, I’m not very expressive. I don’t talk a whole lot. My face is always “pensive” (as someone, trying to be polite, once told me). I’m not much for spilling beans, as it were. In print, it’s a different matter; I can sell myself, explain myself, explain other people, tell them what to do, etc. I’m quite comfortable doing it. It’s unfortunate I can’t teach on paper.
When I took up teaching, I rather held to the “keep it business” perspective. I’ll tell my students a little about my home life or offer my opinions if I think it will make them more comfortable (and therefore get me that much more leverage), but at no point do I feel like “sharing”.
The last 24 hours have been the Day of Evisceration. I feel like my guts are just splattered all over the ground, ready for extispicy.
The tutoring centre I work in has an exciting policy about making money, which frequently leaves me with 4 or 5 students, all of different age ranges, all studying different subjects. Last night, I had Endymion, a Grade 11 student, a Grade 9 student, a Grade 6 student, and a Grade 5 student. All male; all but the Grade 5 are practicing Muslims. Grade 9 student, quite intellectually disabled (and also socially disabled), had to write a paragraph for health class. The paragraph was on how one might know when it is time to “do it” with one’s girlfriend. As Grade 9 student is not able to write a sentence by himself, much less a paragraph, and can certainly not on a subject so intangible, I had to be heavily involved.
I don’t have problems talking to kids about sex, and I do think the subject should be taught in the schools. So, I was not going to let him just write, “Prom night is a good time to do it.” However, I had the other students to think about (Endymion could not get any lower in his chair). I told Endymion go sit in the other room; everyone else claimed they were not bothered by it. I let the Grade 9 student ask any questions he wanted on the subject of “knowing when”, including asking my point of view. The younger kids asked some questions, too. No one asked anything inappropriate, or used unwelcome terminology. They just asked questions so they could learn. Why should people wait? How long should people wait? What’s the fun in waiting? My opinions seemed to be the most pressing thing to discuss.
Because I am a teacher, I shared.
I thought I had done my Good Teacher Duty for the week; apparently not. My Chinese student, who is going to the United States in September, is reading Twilight because I want her to know as much as possible about North American culture. We are reading Carlisle’s story, which begins with Carlisle’s father being an Anglican priest in the mid-1600’s. This morning, I was quite prepared (and quite pleased) to be grilled about the religious history. I was looking forward to a discussion on what she thought would happen to the soul of a vampire, or if she even thought such a thing was relevant to mythology.
I wasn’t prepared to hear the following questions from a cultural atheist:
Do you believe in God? In Jesus? Why do you believe in God? Why don’t you tell me to believe in God if the Bible says you are supposed to do that? Do you say grace before you eat? How do you pray? … It went on like that for 20 minutes.
Because I am a teacher, I shared. Again.
I feel vulnerable, now. Like I have narrowly escaped being hanged for a thought crime. I don’t like answering questions about my beliefs on controversial subjects. Information, I can share; beliefs are to be written on paper and read in privacy and secrecy.
Today, I don’t want to be a teacher. I hope my students ask me some nice, easy grammar questions tonight.