My Teacher Resentment: Teachers are not my heroes.
The Hero Teacher
Walking home, I saw a sign posted in a yard “Teachers are Heroes. Support teachers.” Stopping a moment in the grind of the long-standing resentment held for teachers, I shook my head and continued walking as sadness replaced despise. Despite not wanting to believe every teacher qualifies as bad, releasing resentment finds tremendous resistance mainly for feeling justified in my frustration.
Memories still haunt me from a time of less school oversight when verbally abusive nuns and secular teachers, though not allowed, still physically reprimanded elementary students. Waiting in the hallway for paddling ended in the early eighties, but name-calling, passive-aggressive attitudes, and bullying remained in practice. The noble teacher inculcating violence-infused values in a stream of monikers including “lazy,” “idiot,” and others flooded me with resentment as fellow students emulated the teacher and bullied me from adolescence into the middle of high school. Despite Dr. Spock’s efforts, many adults, including teachers, viewed bullying as an appropriate means to toughen one into manhood.
This story is old, blaming teachers for childhood trauma and whining about life’s position when ultimately, education success rested squarely on my shoulders, no matter my age. Considered an education failure and blamed for that failure as long as I can remember, stokes resentment’s fire after spending more than a decade writing essays entrepreneurially to help many people earn college degrees. A business started at a point of career exasperation which revealed essay writing more lucrative than my job of fourteen years.
Despite selling students essays with a clear disclaimer of my copyright and intended use of the essay as a study guide or model for their work, they turned them in.* The irony that no educator ever formally questioned the papers written by the guy teachers harshly downgraded and didn’t bother to teach inflames memories with screaming parents holding D and F-filled report cards.
Perhaps you still don’t empathize with my frustration. Maybe you would if you assisted students with their online classes, which introduced a new world of academic despise. Amazingly, I could help fourteen students with multiple online courses while watching Netflix and drinking vodka. Despite the heavy academic workload, I made some observations about teachers in the online environment.
The online teacher’s ability to ignore assaults on grammar, punctuation, logic, and many other mistakes likens to President Trump gleefully watching the Capital’s storming. Often, the online teachers partook in education’s battering, with neither teacher nor student appearing aware of autocorrect.
Assuming the problem isolated to online schools soon proved wrong as reputable universities joined the education beatdown. Now, I cannot show you their poorly written syllabuses filled with grammatical and punctuation errors because an unnamed university’s Attorney Fellow sent a letter to inform me that syllabuses and assignment directions are copyright material.
The Attorney Fellow sent the letter, letting me know the use of assignment directions for advertising services violated copyright, so posting syllabuses in this article may instigate a similar copyright claim. Surely, this incident exemplifies academia’s relentless fight against plagiarism, using lawyers to defend syllabuses and other academic material. Clearly, education’s commitment to fighting cheating falls not in doubt’s shadow cast by popular websites filled with homework directions that coincidentally are the same copyright infringement the lawyer warned me about violating.
Notice the poor sentence construction, verbosity, and ugly use of passive voice: all practices universities denounce despite appearing in all their materials, setting a perfect example. Now, you might be thinking, “Wait a minute. That’s not the teacher’s fault because education companies create most assignment directions. It’s not the teacher’s fault schools buy mass-produced education material. Teachers are victims.”
You are correct that much education material, especially for online schools, comes from large education companies. (We can’t post their work either because of copyright infringement.) But, who do you believe benefits from curriculum mass production? If teachers don’t design assignments, then their time must be spent grading, right? Yes, an arduous task of shifting files with the mouse into the WritePoint and Turnitin systems to kick out autocorrected papers. Of course, this assumes the system lacks automated assignment checks for mechanics and plagiarism, which most schools employ during student submission.
Don’t think brick-and-mortar universities are different; these teachers enjoy far more freedom than their online counterparts. Instead of using mass-produced education, they use the same curriculum year after year posted on web pages to avoid time wasted emailing or printing copies. If you went to school ten years ago, you might find many of your instructor’s web pages still in use and unchanged. Assuming this abundance of time diverts to helping students sadly proved wrong with students writing me, “my teacher is a huge, raging, passive-aggressive jerk” who made rules like don’t talk to me, only email me.
At times, I sympathized with teachers, having dealt with many students and their emails,
Yes, these are awful messages but blaming young college kids blames the victim. If the person can’t write, then why were they accepted to college? Who lets them escape high school without learning? You can blame parents in some cases, but I didn’t earn a living writing papers because every parent failed their kid. The education system must shoulder some blame.
Perhaps you’re a diehard optimist and refuse to see teachers in this light, which I understand because no one wants to believe the ugly nature of education. Stories like the recent college admissions scandal where money bought college entrance to ivy league schools should not shock anyone. Throughout my life, lazy, arrogant teachers passed people along, whether for sports or some other nonacademic reason. No doubt, poor luck brought many bad teachers into my life, and I can only think of two I liked while attending school. Still, bad luck doesn’t explain more than a decade of writing papers and dealing with countless students whose teachers just didn’t give a crap.
Education’s ugliest truth forms in the need colleges have for people like me, who curb the bad-for-business practice of dismissing failing and cheating students. Schools love to brag about graduating X number of people annually, but more than graduate numbers, they like student loans. If you expel students, you lose their loan money along with bragging rights. That’s why the Attorney Fellow’s copyright infringement warning amounted to a gentle tap on the shoulder, and that’s why Course Hero and many other websites continue to post copyright from universities.
While cheating benefits schools, it is a godsend for teachers because the guy buying papers is one less student the teacher needs to deal with unless he gets caught. For all their talk about kids cheating and plagiarizing, teachers benefit from reduced work grading and student interaction, providing the papers pass the automated systems.
Despite resenting teachers, I only partially blame them because many elements polluting education started long ago. Capitalism’s reduction of teachers and students to budget line items explains much of the problem, but let’s not delude ourselves with the fantastical notion that teacher-heroes fight on the front line for students. Maybe some teachers advocate for students, but since elementary school started, in 1977, I never met one.
The YA Writer's Frustration With Students
For fifteen years I stood in front of audiences of teens and started every talk I gave with the following question/offer,
“What do you want to know?”
“You can ask me any question on any subject in the universe.”
Then I’d explain, “I’m old and famous and have written a bunch of books and I have nothing to lose in answering you honestly — So, let’s go. What do you want to know?”
To me, this always seemed like the safest way to assure that these kids might enjoy and get something out of our time together.
I mean, this way it would be about them, right?
And about what they wanted to hear/learn/understand and not me just standing up there carrying on like some asshole about my fabulous career and genius and my Corvette and houses and swimming pool and gorgeous women wanting to touch the hem of my garments and how fun it is/was to be me.
I’d usually be getting paid a fair amount to be there and to talk as an “enrichment” activity, something out of the ordinary school day of testing and curriculum and what-the-fuck-ever that daily dance involved.
So, again, I’d simply ask, “Whata ya wanna know?”
And this approach wouldn’t, shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone because I’d always tell my hosts before I arrived, and again before I’d start to talk, that my presentation would be based on Q&A, on anything the kids or teachers wanted to discuss.
And here’s the kicker: I rarely, and I mean RARELY ever got anything even remotely approaching a reasonable or intelligent question:
Not from the straight “A” National Honor Society kids.
Not the Special Ed. kids.
Not from the jocks, goths, stoners, suck-ups, bullies, wimps, mean girls, cheerleaders, motor-heads… (You getting the picture here?)
Not from ANYONE, EVER including the teachers, teachers’ aides, cafeteria workers, custodians, coaches, athletic directors, principals, vice-principals, nor any other administrators (school or district) or from any employees or other adults in my audiences.
In other words, at these institutions built for the specific purpose of educating, most of the time, almost always, nobody ever wanted or felt they needed to ask me anything about anything.
Did they think they knew all they needed to know about anything/everything already?
Did they feel that I wouldn’t know or have an answer for whatever it was they asked?
Sometimes I’d get a smart-ass question, actually not so much “sometimes” as frequently.
And I’d joke back and everyone would laugh and the room would loosen up a tiny bit, but not even this would open up the space enough for an intelligent or sincere or meaningful query.
And now I’m sometimes asked by other authors or friends, “Do you miss getting out on the road, visiting schools, and meeting your readers?”
And I want to answer, “Are you shitting me?”
But instead, I say, “Not really,” happy to be asked a semi-reasonable question at long last.
The Theory of Multiple Ignorances: What kind of stupid are you?
Understanding the Modalities of Stupid
Much like Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences, which in no way shapes this groundbreaking hypothesis, the Multiple Ignorances Theory meets with criticism. Obvious, glaring differences in ignorance should easily guide one to the veracity of the modalities of stupid, yet researchers, psychologists, and all other academics find unusual unanimous agreement, claiming the theory “pseudoscience.” A lack of alternative explanation indicates this unanimous disbelief forms from bias against half-Italian, quarter-German, and quarter-Native American men of science lacking formal research credentials and experience in necessary education fields, ignoring this author’s work selling term papers to said education system filled with lazy people: discrimination needing attention as a matter of social justice. While this problem is outside the bounds of this paper, the author feels this bias needs mentioning since this paper’s only readership will be academics.
The theory of multiple ignorances posits idiocy variations form from specific “modalities of ignorance,” countering the accepted view of a singular form of stupid. The complexity of human ignorance challenges the paradigm of stupidity often voiced in uncritical generalizations, “dumb as a box of rocks,” or “not the sharpest tool in the shed.” Such singularly focused views of ignorance overlook the vast, diverse, and robust forms of stupidity flourishing in the human behavioral spectrum. Driving this theory is the observable evidence easily viewed in nature but ignored by blow-hard academics. Coincidentally, their bias reflects the Illogical-unmathematical modality of ignorance (see Illogical-unmathematical Modality below).
Ignorance cannot be understated nor distilled in a singular form of stupid as the clear derivations of stupidity force the questions of “not what is stupid” but “what kind of stupid are you and to what degree?” Clearly, all people manifest the stupid modalities with some stronger in some areas than others, such as the racist, creationist conservative who exhibits high degrees of Noninterpersonal and Unintrapersonal ignorance (see Noninterpersonal and Unintrapersonal Modalities below). When ignorance clarifies in the full, diverse spectrum, the modalities of stupid become the only accurate and precise way to describe dumb.
The Modalities of Stupid
The following modalities of stupid are categorized with videos to help evidence these variations using real-world examples.
The modality of unmusicality describes an area of stupidity formed in a lack of sensitivity to sound, rhythm, and tone, often verbally denoted through people expressing, “Christ! You can’t carry a note to save your life!” “You’re giving me a headache, asshole!” Individuals exhibiting high unmusicality cannot sing, play instruments, or even talk in a tone that does not make the skin crawl.
Spatial Blindness is a form of stupidity in which a person cannot judge space and visualize appropriate dimensions. Spatial blindness takes many forms but appears clearly at the macro layer of society in architectural failures. At the microlayer, individuals often exhibit spatial blindness by not reading directions before putting things together. Both layers confound the unstupid with individuals arguing the lack of need to read such directions.
The unlinguistic-illiterate lacks ability with words and language, most often making terrible joke tellers, unskilled writers, and cannot remember events and dates like birthdays. Most notable examples appear as content article writers and bombing comedians.
The illogical-unmathematical person lacks logic, has no abstract thinking, and exhibits no critical thought. People showing high levels of this modality can be identified by surrounding persons, screaming, “You unreasonable son of bitch!” or “What the hell are you saying?” Most notable in those of high illogical-unmathematical ability are the glaring thought contradictions.
The klutzy-kinesthetic intelligence presents as a lack of control over one’s body and inability to play sports and perform movements without having accidents most of the time. Often called “bench warmers” in youth, these people are undaunted by two left feet and press ahead, committing embarrassing feats in front of millions.
Non-interpersonal ignorance manifests in a lack of sensitivity to people’s feelings, moods, race, gender, or the entire person. This modality of ignorance is a vast and diverse form of dumb readily exhibited in most Republicans. While one might think a person of high non-interpersonal ignorance could walk a dog without offending an entire race of people, this assumption proves wrong.
This domain of ignorance refers to unintrospective and self-reflective inability. This form of dumb is the least understood as it is an inward journey of absurdity. The Unintrapersonal gravitate to assumptions and often believe with no good reason that their thoughts are meaningful.
These examples reveal ignorance’s depth and personal obliviousness to one’s stupidity, highlighting the need for modalities of stupid to achieve effective curriculum and policymaking. For instance, teaching stupid people might achieve greater efficacy by taking cameras away from them as well as providing them with honest assertions like, “Don’t do that, dumbass!” None of these lofty goals will actualize until the full spectrum of stupid is realized, stressing the need for continued research.
Gardner, Howard. (2021) I’m just fucking with you Howard
Photo by Michal Matlon on Unsplash
Copyright Vincent Triola & Terry Trueman