Up until I was around fourteen or fifteen, I had my heart set on being a vet. I was good at science (although not great) and I would have maybe pursued that dream had it not been for prize-giving at the end of my fourth year of secondary school. I won first prize in English, French and German, and this made it obvious that my talents were more literary in nature. Eventually I went off to university and got a degree in languages and then a Master’s in Comparative Literature.
After just over two months teaching in an American public high school, the main question that comes to my mind is: “Why the fuck did I pursue that path in life???!” I can’t say that I really like teaching. In fact, I fucking hate it. Sometimes it’s bearable, but that’s the best adjective I can come up with to describe it. I’m hoping that this will change at some point, but it just seems like such a worthless, thankless and poorly paid job. I went into teaching because I wanted to help people less privileged than myself but, quite frankly, I now think that they can all go fuck themselves. I would much rather work with animals who are far more appreciative and pleasant to be around than most teenagers.
Perhaps I would enjoy my life more if I just had to work in the school during the week, and could retreat to civilization at the weekend, but the town we live in is in the middle of nowhere. The nearest city is an hour’s drive away…and even it’s a complete shit-hole. Perhaps even that would be OK if the locals were welcoming but, no, that would be expecting too much. A parent complained to the school about how a foreigner was teaching her child, and she was removed from my class! The kids in my Period 5 class spent weeks complaining about how the American flag was displayed in my classroom (i.e. balanced side-ways on the whiteboard, and not “properly” in a wall bracket) and how that this meant I was disrespecting their country. Curiously, some of the American teachers (even the fucking Social Studies teachers!) don’t even have a flag, but this doesn’t seem to bother the kids. On top of that, they make fun of my accent.
It’s impossible to teach them anything because they’ve been used to getting away with doing no work for their entire time in school – and getting A’s! The principal hired me because he knew I had high expectations for the kids, but he has also told me that I can’t fail anymore than 5% of my student body. This is rather difficult given that 95% deserve to fail. I have never met such lazy, entitled, ignorant, disrespectful kids in my entire life. And, oh yeah, they’re racist, too – towards white people. Well, maybe racism is the wrong term. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that they are deeply suspicious of and hateful towards anything different, and anybody who is not “local”. They hate gay people, blacks and, oh yeah, vegetarians. It absolutely blows their mind that I don’t eat meat. At first I thought this was funny but after two months of being mocked for not stuffing my face with barbecue and being fat slobs like them, it does get a tad tiresome.
I try telling myself that the kids can’t help their ignorance because they’ve grown up in such an isolated place, surrounded by bigoted, ill-educated people, but it’s hard to keep that in mind when the wee shits are out to get you. The mother who had her kid pulled from my class actually had “spies” in all of my classes who were noting down “inappropriate” or “racist” remarks I had made!
I honestly don’t think I’m cut out for this job. I take all the kids’ insults far too personally. Also, much to my surprise, I’ve reached the stage where I really don’t care anymore about most of the kids’ abusive backgrounds. Does that give them the right to be verbally abusive and disrespectful?
I’m honestly not sure I even like people.
Welcome to small town American, eh?!