I am the person who says what others are thinking, but too chickenshit to say out loud. I am the one who will not sit back and remain voiceless. It often gets me in trouble, but I’m also the one who never says anything about losing sleep based on things left unsaid – and I know many who have sleepless nights. Lemme just pause here and note my computer actually recognizes chickenshit as an actual word. Colored me currently impressed.
This past weekend was Parent’s Weekend at my children’s school, and I’ve mentioned before that I am a teacher. I sat in the classroom of a very educated, but equally awkward teacher (I prefer the term awkward duck), who made this exact comment, “The current threat to students’ education at this school is the competent teacher. It is that teacher whom the students rely on as the know-all, and the students sit back and just nod their heads and take little responsibility for their learning. It is no longer student-centered. This competent teacher has taken over the classroom.”
There was silence – frankly there should have been. When was a competent teacher a threat? I’ve worked with plenty of incompetent morons in the field, and they are the threat, not the competent ones.
I’m pretty sure my face was contorted at this point and I was thinking: What. The. Fuck. Are you talking about, buddy? I know I was thinking his awkward duckness was shining through at this moment, but please, do proceed with your whackjob explanation.
He continued to explain himself, and how it might the be incompetent teacher who actually forced the students to learn based on the teacher’s incompetence. I cannot make this shit up.
At this point, my exact thoughts were: Are you fucking kidding me? Are these dipshit words
actually coming out of your mouth as an educator? No, they can’t be. Oh, wait. Yep. Yes, they are.
I couldn’t take it, and I simply cut him off with the following, “I will absolutely argue your use of the word competent here. You’ve used it completely wrong. It is the incompetent teacher who will always be the threat – this will be the classroom which is stand-and-deliver and the students simply nod and spit out information. A competent teacher will always create a student-centered learning environment where the students are in charge of their learning, and the teacher is the facilitator to that.” Insert mic drop.
You could have heard a pin drop at this point. This is an iconic, albeit weirdo, teacher who no ones gets in the way of. Except me. Everyone in the classroom whipped their heads around to look at me. Everyone except the teacher. After a very pregnant pause, another parent said, “You’re so right, I totally agree.” A few muttered “Uh-huh.” Well, aren’t we awesome role models, moms and dads?
Without ever making eye contact, said teacher completely shifted gears and babbled on about something else. I tuned him completely out. All he had to do was back-pedal and say, “Yeah, I totally mixed those words up.” Nope. Lemme change the subject ’cause I’m that fucking awkward. For the record, he smells at times, too. And now you have a complete sensory picture.
A few parents even said to me after, “I can’t believe you said that to him in class.” I stared at them… just stared for a length of time. I have zero issues with eye contact, but plenty of people do. A nifty little social skill is to learn to stare because under duress, most people can’t handle it. And so it was with said parents. I wanted to say Why? Because you’re a gutless sack of shit who needs to grow a pair and actually say what you’re thinking vs. bitching about it to the rest of us? Instead, I simply said with a large grin, “People need to say what they’re thinking, and I guess I’m that person.” They stared at me. I asked, “Did you really believe what he was saying?” Their response, “No.” The conversation ended with me saying before I walked off, “I rest my case.” We didn’t speak for the rest of the weekend. Imagine that.
Is this what put me in Hell? No. I simply want you to understand I always speak my mind. If you read this blog, that should be the understatement of the bloody century.
Let me shift gears here, and speak to a nebulous entity. It’ll be much like trying to send a letter to the White House and expecting a response; I think that only happens to the random 5th grader.
I want to give voice to those who might not have the needed voice here. Cause I am that person who always speaks my mind.
Backstory: Last weekend, a parent called me asking if I would tutor her child for the Language portion of the SAT test. My brain is going numb, so I jumped on this gig like a cheap hooker jumps on a $200 trick. My response was that quick, and I thought was Omigod, my brain can stop shriveling like testicles in ice water. I offered my fee, but it was more like a cheap hooker; even the parent said, “This price seems really low.” It’s been a while since I’ve tutored, and I forgot how much prep is involved, especially when it’s standardized test prep… And then, I met with said child, and realized shit-on-a-stick, I HATE standardized testing with a flaming passion, and I loathe the SAT – you should hear fire breathing venom coming from that statement. It took less than 24 hours for me to call her back and say, “Yeah, taking you up on that higher fee.” Thankfully, we’re friends – she said she was waiting for that call. She understood.
My Current Week: I’ve spent 6 hours with this student this week covering strategies,
going over grammar and mechanical rules, taking practice tests, putting her under timed pressure, etc. And this is just the start. It’s breaking down how to tackle each section, how to analyze passage structure, how to read for major detail in an 80 line passage in less than 5 fucking minutes, it’s figuring out nuisances between word choices, and understanding big words that not too many 16 year olds use. I’ve spent at least 12 hours prepping for that time together, learning about the structure, tips, and strategies of the new test – because the College Board wants to switch up the format every few years to keep making money. How entrepreneurial of them. We all thank you.
This is not a rant about time spent, it’s about the quality of life wasted on this shitbag test.
I speak for the voiceless high schooler: It’s like wishing you could beat the ever-loving-
shit out of something, but knowing it will make no difference because this test will make or break your future because OH MY GOD, I can’t get into the college I want, and it’s not even an IVY FUCKING LEAGUE, but I can’t get in without this Godforsaken test score. Please do include the ACT in this, and those fucktard SAT subject tests. I don’t discriminate. It’s somehow become a measure of my worth – it will become my parents’ eternal bragging right or shame, depending on my outcome. If I do well, by George, my parents LOVE to share their pride in that number. And if I don’t meet their benchmark, there’s this look of shame as if some creeping, living flesh-eating fungus lives within their belly.
My story for high school kids: I got a 980 on the SAT in the late 80s. That was after taking it twice. I gave up after that. And guess what? I went to a great school, which was my first choice, but left and transferred because I wanted to major in something completely different and no longer liked the school. I went through 2 schools and 4 majors before I figured anything out. And I turned out ok. With a 980. I know I didn’t break 500 on either section. Why do I remember this? I just remember rando facts. It’s a gift.
I’ve spent my entire day today, another 11 hours – from 12:30 – 11:30 pm – breaking out strategies and rules for getting through 1/2 of the test. ONE HALF of the test. My poor student had a total and complete breakdown on me today when she got a 3/10 on a passage within the reading test. I am a former English teacher, and when I read the passage – a fictional piece from 1911 – I tried to explain to her this was indeed a very difficult passage: it was riddled with difficult vocabulary, had ridiculously flowery verbiage, and the questions & answers were no different. So much for the new SAT being less of a mind & vocabulary game. I don’t think I got more than 5 questions right – I simply didn’t understand what in hell they were asking, and I know how to take this stupid test. Even after I explained this, her response in-between heaving sobs was, “I suck at this [gasp], I’m never gonna get it.” Christ on a cracker, I’m an English teacher, not a therapist here. Half my heart bled for the pressure she was feeling and putting herself under, and the hardened half of my heart wanted to send a therapy bill along with the tutoring fees.
My note to the College Board: Maybe I will send the bill to the rat bastards at the College Board with a a simple note of two words. YOU SUCK. Three, if I’m feeling particularly frisky. YOU SUCK BALLS.
If a seasoned English teacher who’s taught juniors & seniors how to take this test can’t understand what’s even being asked in the question, and can’t digest the reasoning given for an answer… screw you, College Board.
You know, I’m reminded of a poem by William Carlos Williams here:
so much depends
a red wheel
glazed with rain
beside the white
- First, who names their kid William Williams? Thank God for his middle name.
- Second, maybe I’ll send the College Board this revised note in poem form:
nothing should depend
which is useless &
go fuck yourselves
For the record here, I actually know this poem by heart and love it for a variety of reasons. While I can rant and swear like a pirate on a 90 day haul without rum, I’m an intellectual at heart.
Now I’ll sit around like a 5th grader and wait for my response from the College Board, which may or may not ever come. Who wants to place bets?
devil – yeah, that’s you College Board – thumbnail image, awkward duck credit, impaled girl in hell image, stick figure credit, fucking kidding meme credit, SAT credit, you suck gif credit, Yoda meme credit