Posts Tagged ‘student’
Apparently, my alma mater has a baseball team, and that baseball team kind-of-sort-of won the College World Series.
As a marching band alumnus, I was invited to play in a rally to celebrate a victory I had absolutely no part in or knowledge of until I got an e-mail late Tuesday night. I’m more than happy to come to this rally: I have school spirit.
I’m still not used to having school spirit.
When I was in high school, school spirit was a silly thing. Though our losing football team wasn’t much to speak of, we had a genuinely talented wrestling squad. Our school put on rallies to celebrate those accomplishments.
I still didn’t care. I wasn’t in the wrestling squad.
I went to exactly one rally during high school, and that was the first of my freshman year. Fellow freshmen, screaming at the top of their lungs, stood around me in the stadium. I sat throughout the entire rally, reading my a copy of the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons 2nd Edition Monster Manual. I thought to myself:
I could do this in the school library.
So I did, for every rally between autumn of my freshman year and graduation of my senior year. I grew to appreciate rallies. Not because I liked them, but because I liked the school library.
I was proud of one thing in high school: our band program. Our marching band was the division champion in 2003 — for the 60-members-and-under division — and the concert bands regularly did very well. When I got to college, I decided to stick around the music department.
Marching band there got me interested in our college football team — this team tends to be middling with thrilling shots of greatness — and a few seasons later, I was hooked. This wasn’t school spirit so much as loving the marching band for being incredible, and without using amplification.
I was also a fan of the band trip per diem.
I contracted school spirit only since I left the band, and, more recently, the school. My school spirit is derivative of nostalgia, and my nostalgia is integral to school spirit. It works mathematically. Nostalgia requires active interest; it takes effort toward some cause; most importantly, it requires spending some time away from that cause. School spirit works the same way.
My high school threw rallies and sort of expected us to be excited about something other than skipping class for a day. That’s the wrong way about it. How can we reasonably expect students to have school spirit without getting first getting them actively involved?
I’m off to play last chair second trombone at a rally, to celebrate the accomplishments of athletes I hadn’t heard much about until last Monday and hadn’t followed much since then. That’s alumni involvement, and all schools need that, too — active alumni have school spirit.
Schools need to foster school spirit, and most schools know it. High school administrations also realize that they must give their students something to have school spirit about.
Rallies don’t count. Schools forget this.
One day, our professor began class by asking us whether or not we should teach morality in public schools.
It took about 12 seconds for my credential class to decide that yes, we should. We wouldn’t want our little rapscallions running in the streets, taking baseball bats to our windshields and setting fire to hobos just because they didn’t get taught morality at home. In true Socratic fashion, he almost immediately posed another question.
We thought it was another gimmie.
Why, Judeo-Christian, we said. That’s pretty common and acceptable, and we don’t need to add in all the theology when we teach it.
In true Socratic fashion, that was another setup.
Who here doesn’t think they subscribe to this Judeo-Christian morality, or something close to it?
Just about everyone grunted in the affirmative.
Hah. I bet you guys are a bunch of hypocrites.
We insisted we weren’t.
Alright, then. Let’s prove it. Could I have everyone who is married or was married come and stand up in the front of class for a moment?
We did so.
O.K. This question isn’t for the people standing up. This is for the people sitting down. How many of you are virgins?
One of us raised a hand.
The rest of you are hypocrites. According to Judeo-Christian morality, if you weren’t married, you should be a virgin. Therefore, according to Judeo-Christian morality, there is only one moral person among everyone sitting down in this class.
Now my question to you is: How can you teach morality if you don’t practice it?
Good question. Awkward way of showing his point, but a good question nonetheless.
After a few months of student teaching, my master teacher took a sharp turn. While at first she was appropriately demanding and critical, by April, she became complimentary.
I liked how you presented this excerpt, and had them look for different things in the Second Treatise. That was good.
The compliments were never frequent, but by April, they were all I got. There’s no way to put me off like a steady diet of nothing but compliments.
Compliments seem like the sweet thing to do — who likes pessimists, anyway? — but they have to be tempered with some fiber, some meaningful substance. Compliments bolster the ego, but after that cotton candy feeling wears off, I’m left with nothing but the memory of warmth.
Not that compliments aren’t intoxicating. I misinterpreted my master teacher’s rationale for all the compliments, thinking: Gee, maybe I’m getting really good at this.
That wasn’t it at all. After confronting her about it, we talked our way to this:
It’s just that every time I tell you something, you try to explain yourself. You never listen to me. You even argue with me about every little thing. I just got tired of it, and I gave up trying.
Then I argued with her about every little thing she said.
My family relishes spirited argument, so I was hardly writing you off. If I argue about it, that means I am listening to what you say. If I argue about it, that means I care about what you say. I requested to have you as my master teacher because I knew you were tough on your student teachers — I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Without your criticism, I laid back. I got lazy. I became laissez-faire attitude toward my student teaching, come what may.
Student teaching was never quite the same, in that light. That’s what cotton candy compliments will do to you, so think about that next time you have the urge to put politeness over honesty.
Cotton candy compliments are why a trainwreck show like American Idol can exist — we get so caught up in all the nice things others say about us that we go off and embarrass ourselves, sometimes on national television. We need the unpleasant fiber, the “Really, Steve. Don’t go to that audition. You suck.”
Even worse, sometimes we’re so hopped up on compliments that we ignore the that lone, deflating voice of dissent, saying, “What do they know? Everyone else says I’m just like Freddie Mercury.”
We shouldn’t substitute cotton candy for fiber, however unpleasant it is. If we do, pretty soon we’ll end up like Red, here: full of crap.
How this relates to students, teachers, coworkers, friends and relatives is left as an exercise to the reader.