dal niente

Effects do Stack

In about 10 hours, I’m going to be waking up to go to work.

For this month only, I’m going to be teaching Intensives  I mentioned this in an earlier blog, but this perhaps needs a bit more clarification.  It’s 3 classes of 3 hours each that I teach.  I have another 2 hours at work to do prep time. So I spend a bit over 11 hours at work every day until the end of January.

It’s really draining.  It really is.

I’m kinda on the good side of the counselors at work.  It’s funny how that turned out, because I was getting in trouble not too long ago for various things just about every 2-3 days.  Now I have more resposabilities and a more decent salary, plus a bit more bargaining rights when it comes to administrative favors.

That’s all fine and dandy but what I really think was most gratifying about the past 3 months at my job were some of the ‘bad apples’ that I turned around.  I used to rant to my cousellor about how great it felt to finally reach a kid who was scoring 20% on vocabulary tests and to be able to bring that up to a 60 or 70… I made a note to myself to not be like some other teachers, who would go as far as calling their kids stupid. 

This doesn’t make me special, does it?  Perhaps it just means that I’m stubborn, or that I’m stupid.  The usual quick method of quelling an uprising in class is to punish the kid.  The usual method of dealing with a student with poor grades is to punish and assign more homework.

Where’s the humanity in that?  Where’s the customization of the formula?

And so I reiterate my stance on rules:  rules aren’t meant to be upheld, they’re meant to be guidlines.  They’re meat to make it more time efficient by taking away the need for reevaluation of every little thing. But like any RTS players know, strategy is only half of the game– the other half is the down-and-dirty micromanagement.

I’m a headfirst sort of person so I usually do better at the micro part than the rest.  But this is where it’s backfiring– the new January intensive semester has me teaching a whole new set of kids.  And for some odd reason, I have more than my fair share of delinquents.

I just find that I have an excessive amount of bad students this month.  Is it because the company expects me to work miracles? I mean, sure– I will do my best, and that’s what did turn kids around last semester  But even this– this is a bit much!  In the last three days of teaching, I’ve discovered the same amount of problem children that it took me a month to discover last semester.  This isn’t because I’m looking harder– it’s just that much more obvious.

I have to fight to keep control of my classes.  I mean, it really is a marathon– 6 hours of teaching would leave me just a bit tired, but 9 hours?  By the 9th, I’m mentally and physically exhausted.  Usually, entire classes of kids are just assigned a new teacher to take over the whole group (since that’s administratively easy– since everyone in the class is the same level).  But for me, somehow, I’ve got hybrid classes of some of the worst of every class. 

It may be more than I can handle.  It’s nice that the counselors have this much confidence in me.. but really…

Or maybe I’ve got it all wrong, maybe this is their way of  me for breaking so many of their rules.

Shall I try to be positive?  I suppose the bright side is that I’ve never felt such a duality between a pressing need to go to class and an infinitely heavy dread of walking into that same class.  This is in itself a learning experience.  I blog now because I try to get the most out of my short weekend before having to go back in that hole… when I suppose, I should be sleeping.

…it’s only until the end of January, I tell myself…

It feels like I’m on a tightrope.  It’s all fine,  because I know what I’m doing– I’m a professional.  But on the other hand, is it just a matter of time until it just wears me down?


Need for Need

While I have yet to see it all, I think I’ve had a good amount of opportunity in my life so far to see a lot of different people of a lot of different ages.  You see a few patterns.  It’s true that everyone is unique– but that uniqueness is also accounted for in the whole concept of society, which implies that we hold a lot of things in common.  If you phrase that a bit less flattering way, one perspective is that we’re not all that original.

Creativity is one issue.  But the one I was thinking about was the opposite– destructive tendencies.  Or more particularly, pessimism.

There’s a real difference between pessimism and cynicism, but lets just address this popular issue of people oftentimes being generally low on hope.  Why? Simply because they don’t want to find any.

From every end.  In the classroom, I found that some kids actually have this brain, this idea box, filled to the brim with an operating software that mandates “this is my limit” or “I am only this good.”  The system tells me to put in a fighting effort for the ones who are lost causes, but smart business practice says that we sweep them under the rug as much as possible and try our best to promote the comfort and enjoyment of the smart kids– they’re the ones who bring the prestige, an indirectly but inevitably, the dollars to the classroom.

The same thing happens in hospitals– you do your best to help those who want to be saved.  Hippocratic oath or not, medical institudtions can and do put in more effort for people who want to be helped.  For those who consider themselves lost causes, the diagnosis of the self-proclaimed victim seems to be the seal on the case.

Few people would go out of their way to second guess a exercise in free will when a bad student or a bad patient says “I give up.”

This is my case for socialism.  I’m not saying, lets all be communist.  I’m not even saying that this is that kind of issue– I’m just drawing a continum from left to right where one one side, we have people telling you what’s best and on the other side, you have everyone being left to their own means.

The latter is that ‘capitalist’ mentality that says competition solves everything– in the big shakedown, it’s only the weak who drop out.  The automatic Darwinism makes the next generation stronger because they pass those hurdles automatically.  A person who is ambitious, for example, easily does the hard work necessary to get those good grades that get the good jobs.  A person who lacks ambition, on the otherhand, falls down the caste ladder until only the jobs knee-deep in the mud are available (deservedly so).

What a lot of people in the middle and upper castes often don’t realize though is that this system doesn’t work.  What is the point of it all?  To accumulate wealth?  We’ve already established: having money doesn’t mean you’re happy. Not automatically.  There is something else, something transcendant of all that.  And that is our humanity.

Humanity means everything in between birth and death, from the saddest to the happiest moments. 

I’m getting sidetracked.

What I meat to write about is that we need to ignore all logic at some point and simply decide to believe in something exactly as obscure and unoriginal as love.  The day we become too cynical to trust someone who tries to do something nice for us or when we become too caught up in intellectual exercises that we can’t appreciate simple happiness is when we are dead.

It is important to understand what’s going on.  Most people don’t go through that effort.  But after we understand, we can’t just stop at cynicism– we can’t just hate the world when we discover all it’s conspiracies against us.  We have to believe that this kind of knowledge is a starting point, and that there is more to it that needs to be done.  We need to try to make the world a better place.

People always ask me, “what can I do?”

It’s not my place to tell anyone, except that in all likelihood, you need to find a reason for yourself.  You need to find this reason more than anything else in your life.  Otherwise, you’ll always feel alone.