When I was in grad school, pursuing my teaching certification as a “non-traditional” student, there was this one woman in my classes who was also “non-traditional.” She was kind of wishy-washy, in addition to being very nice. I think that she used to work in the entertainment industry with something having to do with cameras. Yeah, that career. I am not sure if she left it to have kids, or if they moved, or what. I was working full-time, had a teenager and a toddler, and had worked for quite some time with kids with Emotional/Behavioral disorders. Or whatever is PC at any given time. The angry whack jobs. I had a different perspective from my classmate. Let’s call her Wynonna.
When we had to design a “Literacy Center,” Wynonna went ape-shit with the Michaels craft-o-rama, and the hot glue gun. I have no recollection of what she was trying to teach using this center, but I vividly remember that the display included a mini-picket fence, and a bunch of other miniature, doll-house size items. It was cute as hell, and earned Wynonna the disdain of everyone who had invested exactly $2 on one piece of poster board and one pack of index cards at the Dollar Store.
My perspective sprang from experiences that resulted in bruises. On me. I have seen good guinea pigs fall at the hands of enraged 8-year-olds trashing a classroom. And when I say fall, I mean, literally fall, within their crashing cages, and die. One of the lessons I learned during my first year of teaching in a combat zone was to view each and every item used for learning as a potential projectile. I also learned that one does not give students any materials until the final nanosecond when they are expected to use said material, lest it similarly become a projectile or weapon of some sort.
As you can imagine, when I see a potential teacher break out the mini-zen garden rakes, my mind turns to visions of horrible facial injuries inflicted upon a student who makes the mistake of looking at a rake-wielding student the wrong way. Different strokes for different folks; this is just the scenario that pops up for me.
I don’t know whether Wynonna ever got a teaching job. Maybe, at some district where they needed an extra mild-mannered first grade teacher, and where all the children know things like their name when they enter kindergarten. I hope not, though. Not because I harbor any animosity toward Wynonna–although, COME ON with the potpourri manipulatives for the five senses lesson.
I hope that Wynonna hasn’t had to wind up where we are now. I knew how crazy classrooms could be when I went for it. But there was no way that I could have predicted how crazy the educational system was going to become. How a willingness to teach urban, at-risk kids would become a liability and a place where numbers are the only thing that matters. Wynonna would have folded like a house of cards. I want to fold like a house of cards. Wait, cards could be a weapon. Guess I’ll have to stick it out.