Monday, November 22, 2010

Authority Figures

Authority figures.

High School in a small town is an important learning experience. That statement should be obvious since High School is when we learn to drive, despise old literature and dissect small animals.

What I’m referring to is the learning experiences that weren’t part of a planned curriculum like human interactions, the power of personal insecurities and how to expertly exploit a position of dominance. First hand I witnessed one person stab another in the back back and then watched both parties pretend to still like each other to further mutual social gain. I learned that people that feel a need to get even for how they were treated in high school do so by becoming high school teachers.

The schools in small towns tend toward three basic types of teacher. The first is the Loving Teacher. There are several characteristics of the Loving Teacher first being that she went into teaching to be be around young people. Teaching is her dream job and there isn’t much pressure to move up through the ranks. Don’t be surprised if she was your mom’s teacher or grew up in the same town.

The Loving Teacher says things like “Oh, just sit anywhere, I’ll adjust my chart”, “I really think you can do better on that last assigment, Is there anything I can do to help? ” and the dead give away “Who needs a hug?”

The Loving Teacher isn’t necessarily a pushover and she can vary in her tolerance of tardiness and disruptions but the one core trait is that every one loves her. Even the rotten kids fondly remember their times with the Loving Teachers. Usually from a barstool or a prison cell.

The second basic teacher type has ended up in a small school not because they dreamed of the position since being a child but because they just aren't good enough to teach anywhere else. Sometimes they’ve failed at what they really wanted to do and woke up one day and said “Screw it, I’ll just be a teacher”. That internal dialogue is how they earn the title of The Screw It Teacher.
The Screw It Teacher is characterized by not explaining him or herself. They start their career later in life and if they tell any stories about themselves at all it’s about how much better life was before they started teaching. Tests are spent with the Screw It Teacher looking through the classified ads and scratching off lottery tickets.

The third small town teacher type is created in High School. Some pivotal event happened to them while they were students to make them want to go into education. Perhaps it was underwear wedged so far up their butt that the waistband looked like a bra strap. Maybe the epiphany happened during a crying spell after being called ugly, dumb, stinky or faggot. Maybe it was as simple as being picked last yet again for a team in gym class or on the playground.

Regardless of the exact trauma and who caused it a monster was born that day. All of these picked on dorks looked in the mirror one day and said the same thing to themselves "I'll show them. One day I'll run this school and then everyone will be sorry". An Evil Teacher was born that day.

Evil Teachers usually become gym teachers but that’s not exclusive. We had Evil Teachers in English, Evil Teachers in History and even one very Evil Teacher of Drama and Theater. There is no need to learn how to spot an Evil Teacher because you will already know from the neighbors, older cousins and siblings that have faced Evil Teacher before you.

Evil Teacher strives to embarrass and punish all of the people that would have been mean to them if they were still students. That evolves into being mean to everyone since the revenge they dreamed of while struggling through college isn’t nearly as sweet as the reality of teaching life. Like a well worn drug addict they need to issue more detentions, more suspensions and more failing grades just to get the same high.

-------excerpt from Raised by White Trash.. by Steven Berger

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