Of Penalty Kicks and Pride

1 02 2009

I’ve always wondered what holds islands up.  How deep does their land mass go?  I assume, even for the smallest ones, that it extends all the way to the ocean’s floor, otherwise they would drift around.  Still, I’ve never really been able to shake my initial conception of them as bobbing land masses, hovering on the surface of the water until some whim sends them away.

I don’t think I would ever want to live on an island, but I think it would be nice to live close to one.  That way, I could always look over at the island when I was having a bad day and say, “Well, at least those suckers can’t go mini-golfing like I can!”  I think that would really brighten my day, unless I had a bad day at mini-golfing and had no desire to be involved with it at all.  That would probably make looking at the island a little more strange.  Perhaps I would begin to see myself as an island; I am, after all, quite a land mass.  I have been doing well with running and such for a while now, but I still enjoy calling myself fat.  Probably because I think that, as long as I’m not self-conscious about my weight, I can joke about it.  If I ever get so fat that I can’t joke about my weight, then I think I would be unhappy.  Besides, I’d constantly be thinking that I was the person that I always made fun of at fast food restaurants, you know?  “Oh, there goes Mr. Super-Size Me with a double western bacon cheese burger again.  What a turdpants.”

Actually, I’ve never called anyone turdpants, that I can remember.  I did tell a kid named Maverick once that Brittany was his “true princess” in like 4th or 5th grade after he was flirting with her (Her name may have been Kimberly) and then he told me to shut up.  I don’t remember ever being told to shut up before then, which is a surprise considering how brazen I could be at times in my childhood.  I always regret that I didn’t work harder at my bullying — then I could be one of those kids who just expressed himself badly instead of a little turdpants.  Although, to be clear, I have near turded my pants that I can remember.  I did have one incident in Paso Robles or Porterville before a soccer tournament, but that didn’t end up mattering.  I ever got taken down on a breakaway in that tournament, but Coach decided to have Sam take the penalty shot instead of me, mainly because Sam was left-footed.  I’ve always been resentful of left-handed athletes since then.  Somehow, despite John and my many years in all-stars, neither of us ever managed to score a goal.  I do remember some really nice ones I had during the season, though, including a PK I put in off the crossbar.  I think Brice hugged me after that, or maybe it was after my header on a corner kick.  That was definitely my best season, I would say.  We beat “No Fear” in the championship game, which was very impressive considering that they hadn’t lost a game during the season.  I remember our coach doing a backflip and getting dogpiled afterwards.  That was around 6th grade, I believe.  Kids started getting meaner after that, though.

One of the 7th graders at PACE yesterday started telling one of the 6th grade girls to shut up and to stop looking at her.  There was something about her tone of whiny bravado that made me instantly purse my lips and stare at her.  Thankfully, one of my coworkers (who has like ten years of teaching experience) managed to defuse the situation pretty easily.  It’s not that I was afraid of dealing with it, but I do believe in letting kids work things out to a reasonable degree.  It’s good for people to learn how to deal with conflict, especially when the other person is being stupid.  It’s not good, however, to let younger kids get verbally abused just because some 7th-grade latchkey kid has something to prove.  Why is there such a focus on pride over integrity?  I’ve seen a few different instances of older kids defying younger ones to say something to them, and I finally realized why it bugs me so much:  The same attitude is just as present in adults.

I know that kids–especially adolescent ones–are constantly battling their insecurities, and this often works itself out in shows of arrogance to those they deem to be inferior.  Adults, however, can be just as prone to such displays.  I’ve heard more than a few people, even coworkers, who will lecture other students about something without any indication that they actually care about imparting their idea.  Rather, they seem to be seeking to wow the child or other person with their knowledge or pretense.

After all, if I know that X works this way, then for you to not know it either proves your ignorance or my prominence.  Thankfully, our egos can receive a large boost from either of these things, so I’ll be safe either way.

I remember a particular instance last week when one of my kids asked me how Barack Obama could have possibly memorized his inauguration speech.  Recognizing an opportunity to illustrate how flawed our education system is today, I started to talk about how people used to memorize everything they learned, more or less. I was going to give an example or two, but I didn’t have a chance.  As I began to respond to her, I was almost immediately cut off by a coworker who couldn’t resist the opportunity to talk about brain capacity and short-term/long-term memory.  He spoke quickly and patronizingly, using phrases like “Well, haven’t you heard of…” and “Don’t you know about…” often.  He finally ended by cutting her question off with a flippant remark that, I’m sure, really piqued her desire to learn more about the subject:  “Never mind, you don’t get what I’m saying.”

I was incensed.

To end this long-winded and schizophrenic post, I’ll just write the tirade that I desired to release upon my fellow pedagogue’s deserving ears:

Did that feel good?  Have you properly quenched your desire to lord your knowledge over someone a third of your age?  I can’t imagine why our school systems are failing, with people like you being so entrenched in the classroom.  Surely, your uncontrollable need to validate yourself must have only the most positive effect upon the occasional (and increasingly rare) student that wanders across your path with a question.  I hope that you didn’t waste too much of your valuable time on this student who dared to ask a question.  Of course, if your patronizing words don’t sink in on the first try, why should you be bothered to make a second attempt?  I’m glad that you abandoned any idea of simplification or expansion upon ideas in favor of an information dump.  After all, quick, one-time lectures are the proven method for conveying knowledge to children, right?  Questions be damned, childish ignorance be quashed!  We are here to teach the willing and apt, not the confused and inquiring.  How dare you, sir.  How dare you take the mantle of knowledge and use it to shroud and repel those who are seeking its folds?  (Ok, I probably wouldn’t ever say that to anyone. It sounds cool, though.  Also creepy and litigable.)  If you see it so necessary to interrupt me from answering my student because of your obviously superior knowledge, where do you get off brushing them aside after one question?  Are you really so desperate to be seem as all-knowing that you will sacrifice an 8th grader’s question upon your altar of self-esteem?  If questions are so repugnant to you, then do mankind a favor and get another job.  You should know better than most how difficult it is to find a willing student in our age of cynicism, yet at the drop of a hat you proceed to crush a student’s quest for knowledge without so much as a second glance.  This student may not be capable of absorbing your monologues as you may wish, but the students are not the ones being employed and implored to spark the fire of inquiry within this school.  If you ever brush off one of my students like that again, you will find yourself on the receiving end of some childish impudence, sir.  Thank you.

Ok, I think it’s out of my system for now.  Go Stars.

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