From Inmate to Teacher


It’s interesting that I am becoming a teacher, given that as a child I hated being in school. Now I’m the guard, the tie-wearer, the drawling specter in the front of the class. I’m perfectly aware that the public school environment is not so very far from prison. And for some kids, unfortunately, it is prison prep.

But now that I’m in this position, I’ve got to keep the bigger picture in mind. The purpose for which we’ve federally mandated  children to be forced into cell-like classrooms in publicly [under]funded institutions every day is because we need them to become full functioning adults capable of navigating an ever increasingly complex and interconnected world. It ain’t Disneyland that we’re sending them to. Public school is the harsh reality that has trickled down from federal legislation, civic will, and economic necessity; where children are subject to the whims, small cruelties, and fumbling attempts at socialization of their peers and teachers and administration. It’s an imperfect system; but it’s what we’ve got. Investing in our children–right now–is the most solid foundation we have for a future.

So my job is to somehow reach through all of the BS and bureaucracy and truly spark quiet insight into the minds of children. I say “quiet” because the payoff in reaching through into a child’s life is not immediate. It may take years, it may take a lifetime before the impact that a teacher has made becomes evident. And one teacher can’t reach them all. But everyone has that one teacher who has made a difference to them. That one teacher who saw his or her way around all of the superficialities and walls and straight into your hidden potential, and let you know in no uncertain terms that it was there, just waiting to be polished. That’s my task, and it’s gonna be a tough one. But certainly well worth the effort.

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Author: manderson

I live in NYC.

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