Thursday, April 4, 2013

Must Be Nice

Courtesy shuttle--driver, passenger, myself.
P: You're going home, not to work?

M: It's spring break! I'm a teacher at DPMS.

P: Must be nice.

D: My sister went there! Did you have J.I.?

M: I did for a while, then she transferred to Mr F.
She's a junior now, right?

P: You must have a great memory to remember each student. How many kids in a class?

M: About 34.


M: It used to be worse--around 180. 

P: How do you know what they don't know?

M: I grade their papers, but you're right, it's hard.

P: You can't grade all their papers--you have TAs for that.

M: I wish. I grade it all. There are no TAs for that. Look, here are some papers right here. (shows bag full of work to be graded) That's what I'm doing when I get dropped off. Look, some studies say class size doesn't much affect student learning, but no one ever studies how it affects the teachers.

P (sympathetic): How could it not? My kid's elementary class has eleven students.

M: Must be nice.

P: What do you teach?

M: History.

P: Excuse me for asking this, but can't they just ask their smart phones for what they need to know? For when stuff happened?

This is where normally I would bridle and get out the soapbox and quote George Santayana and preach for twenty minutes and totally school him. But you know what? My head didn't explode and I didn't melt his face off. I tell myself I must be nice: he simply demonstrates once again that the study of the past is both undervalued and misunderstood. Unless it is taught poorly (and this is why there were no explosions or melting, because it so often is poorly taught), it is about WHY stuff happens, HOW it happens--much more than just WHAT happened. 

Although it would be nice if people knew WHAT happened, too.