Friday, September 26, 2008

Opposite of Love - FEAR

Oh, I was so angry today at school, I coulda rung a couple kids' necks. I seriously think my 7th grade study hall class could have seen steam coming out of my ears, if they'd looked hard enough.

I was SO lucky going through school. I have NO IDEA how I escaped the cruel and unfair manifestation of "cool" kids doing everything in their power to maintain that status, at the expense of those they deem "uncool." I was neither. Good ole, middle-of-the-ground Tricia.

But I remember watching it happen. And, now that I am adult, I have watched too much news, read too many articles, and learned too much about school shootings/violence to allow for ANY kind of intolerance of others to exist in MY classroom. I forbid it. I work desperately hard to set a culture and climate in my room that allows for love (OK, middle schoolers wouldn't call it that - but that's what it is... dropping the masks, letting go of defining "cool" and "not cool," and being the nicest versions of themselves). It's amazing, when it happens.

During my last class of the morning today, which I only have every other day, and which is just a study hall (so I really don't INTERACT or have a chance to build that same climate because they don't know me and I don't know them), I observed two students openly laughing about a story about a fellow student. Making fun. LOUDLY. Right in front of me. Right in front of those who had already gathered in the room. LIKE IT WAS OK. These two students are pretty funny kids, well-liked, witty - the kind of kids that have a natural leadership power that makes people listen. "Cool," I suppose.

I just let them finish their little mascarade. The period started. And then I called them to my desk. And I LET THEM HAVE IT.
It was so out of character for me that I think they were literally SCARED of me. Good. Let them know the wrath of Mrs. Arthur.

FEAR. It's a horribly debilitating entity in this world. It keeps those who FEAR losing their "cool" status maintaining that divide between themselves and those different from them. It prevents those with the "uncool" status from living into their amazing potential, for FEAR of the wrath they might receive by being themselves.

Yesterday I was watching the 5:00 news and the big story was how a high school in Minneapolis had a repeat outbreak of hate messages in the school. Messages on lockers and bathroom walls reading "All niggers should die." Are you kidding me?

Hate might be confused as the opposite of love. But give me one act of hate that isn't motivated by FEAR.

Ugh, nasty fear. I say it's the evil working in our world.

PS. I know this is so heavy, but I am SO glad I am working with young people. Think about what power teachers have to turn some of these habits upside down? As far as I'm concerned, math is secondary to that lesson of life.


Aunt Lisa said...

Tricia JOY how I wish you could teach both Andrew and Jessica! This world would be a different place if all teachers thought like you.

Lepus said...

I don't care what anyone says. Middle school is the WORST of all the grades. Just ruthless little buggers. GIT EM TRISH!!!

Emily said...

Tricia, you are such a wonderful breath of fearful air!!! There should be ZERO tolerance for any of those things.
Thank goodness you took a tough stance and didnt shrug it off.
You are making a difference and I think more people should want to make a difference, especially with young people.
You are a teacher in EVERY sense of the word. EVERY sense.

Dawn said...

Tricia, It was so encouraging to read about your confronting the students in your study hall. I am a teacher too, and see so many complacent teachers who would've turned a deaf ear to that conversation. YOU ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE. I have my 4th graders for nine months. During those nine months, they see a poster in my room that is a quote from Ghandi. "BE the change you want to see in the world". Hopefully, after nine months of sseing it, and hearing it- they will GET it.

MissRebecca said...

Good for you Tricia - there should be teachers like you in every possible place.... just did a good deed today:)

Shauna said...

Chalk one up to the good guys! Go teachers who care!!!!! :) Great job. I'm sure you are more than fabulous at what you do. Thanks for making a difference.

Tiffany McCallen said...

I had/have the same opinion as yours growing up and in my life now. I can't deal with haters! I'm so proud of you for giving those students the what-for. Maybe that'll get them to stop and think a little!

Elenie said...

I once heard that "indifference" is the opposite of love - and it makes perfect sense...Those teenagers were completely "indifferent" to the others feelings and maybe even denied that others existed...
sounds like you're timing was just right!