Was Pink Floyd Sort of Right When They Said “Teacher Leave Them Kids Alone?”

I ran into a kid in a restaurant a few nights ago that I worked with about 10 years ago. When she was in my class, she and her mom took offense at something I did  and began calling my cell phone 50 to 100 times a day.  Eventually I was told by my district that I was to not speak to the mother or be within 25 feet of her for any reason. Unfortunately that would include the check out line at Lowes and other public places.  The daughter,  because she was a teenager approved whole-heartedly of her mom’s, ” teacher put down”  behavior.  Mom of course although much older had never gotten out of the teenage stage so the two became ” team obnoxious.”  The student  was smart but unmotivated and I know that other teachers including myself constantly demanded more than she was willing to give.

Now I was watching her mopping floors in a restaurant  I wondered as all teachers do, did I do it right or wrong? Is this a part-time job while she is in college which is where she should be or is this where she ended up? How could I have handled it differently?

Teachers are artists and craftsmen ( yeah I know craftsmen is sexist but craftspeople sounds too much like a punchline) rather than assembly line workers they become aware that the final product is never guaranteed to be exactly what was wished for or desired and often times wonder what they could have done differently or in some cases not at all to change that end product.

In this case she recognized that I was a teacher of hers  and asked with a smile if I used to teach at Longfellow and that was all.  The conflict was gone and so was her memory of the bad that came with it.   I on the other hand remember  her and her mother quite well perhaps too well.

Teachers rarely see the broad picture of what they have done even though they were there and participated while the government believes that they know what should be done having never been there at all.

Experience is a hard master but a fair one!  Teachers on the ground in a modern classroom have it  college professors and politicians for the most part do not! to paraphrase Pink Floyd… “Politicians, Leave them teachers alone”

Yup I know “them” ain’t right. and I would circle it in red pencil but that is no longer allowed because it would be judgmental of the child’s creative work product however “ain’t” is now okay because it is part of the child’s social vernacular so I wouldn’t circle that you however may feel free to do so.

Oh and incidentally I am not a good grammarian so if  when you find additional mistakes in the above writing please feel free to circle them as well.  I am not allowed to randomly sprinkle commas any more so that would be a good place to start if you are looking for errors.


About safrisri

I was a school teacher until retirement. I have taught at all educational levels from pre-school to college. My college degree is general science which I arrived at after 5 years and 5 different majors. A degree as it turns out, almost as valuable and in demand as one in Neo-Bulgarian Mythology. I have been around education for around 40 years and can remember when teaching was a pleasant, happy and creative job and our schools were the same. Now I'm the guy sitting on the porch with an opinion on everything.
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2 Responses to Was Pink Floyd Sort of Right When They Said “Teacher Leave Them Kids Alone?”

  1. safrisri says:

    I do have a compunction to protest when I see a student accepting less than they should be. I have been asked to leave a fast food restaurant when I kept asking a former student what she was doing there. Brilliant kid, beautiful girl should not have been flipping burgers. Was at a total loss when she told me it was a temporary job until she was called up to the army…. I have nothing against the army and she will be good at it just as she will be good at anything she attempts but in reality I cannot escape the vision that she could be so much more..

    I have worked primarily with high poverty students for the last 15 years and find that the problem is too often not what they can do but the fact that they can’t even perceive of what they are able to become.

    I too love the beauty of math but unfortunately my mind works in too concrete ways to be good at it. My first love is words because unlike math at times they can be a little forgiving.

    I have tried to read Feynman and struggled with the concepts but love Isaac Assimov and Martin Gardner who often stretch words and ideas into shapes that have never been seen before.

    Thanks for your kind comments


  2. HaLin says:

    ‘Teachers rarely see the broad picture of what they have done even though they were there and participated while the government believes that they know what should be done having never been there at all.’

    Wonderfully put.

    If I may ask, did you feel a sense of compunction when you ran into your former student at the restaurant?

    My feeling is that a teacher is like hand that holds the strings to a kite (who flies them anymore!). A tug here, tug there, ensuring that the kite (kid) gained harmony with the air. But if the kite snapped, for whatever reason, I suppose the hand had little role to play!

    Enjoyed reading you. You have a new reader, sir.

    PS: One of my favourite teachers was Richard Feynman. I learnt more by reading him than I ever did in class. So was Michael Faraday….I also was fortunate to learn under a mathematics teacher, who would turn to the board, write an equation, and then talk about it admiringly, as if describing a thing of beauty. His passion was incredibly infectious and thankfully, rubbed off on me.

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