Sunday, April 19, 2009

Where is this class going and why am I in this handbasket?

"Teaching is the highest form of understanding."
~ Aristotle

"A teacher affects eternity."
~ Henry Brook Adams

~ Me, after seven years in a classroom

Yes, I once worked as a teacher. That was before I realized that I could make a lot more money writing cheesy hype - er, I mean, writing compelling marketing projects - and enjoy the somewhat questionable benefit of wearing the same pair of ragged gray sweat pants for weeks at a time, switching to my ragged blue ones only in the event of a coffee stain. Even unkempt hermits have standards.

I spent seven years as an elementary music teacher. This is the same job my daughter has now. Apparently I didn't issue enough warnings.

Here is a story that I hope will illustrate the life of a music teacher. It is an analogy, which means it has no facts and only a vague, sideways relation to reality. (Kind of like a certain news channel which I cannot name because my husband and I have decided not to discuss politics until he comes to his senses and realizes I am right.)


Once upon a time, there was a farmer. Her name was Miss Emerson. Every morning during harvest season, late August through early June, Miss Emerson went into her field. She watched the beautiful sunrise, and drank a cup of coffee.

At 8:00 sharp, a bolt of lightning hit and a swarm of mosquitoes darkened the air. Miss Emerson's job was to keep the mosquitoes in her field for 45 minutes. She was not allowed to yell, flap her arms, or kill them. On good days, she was able to keep the mosquitoes in order by glaring at them and running faster than they could fly. On bad days, the mosquitoes swirled around her relentlessly until she collapsed in defeat. Every day, the mosquitoes clearly thought they were in charge.

After 45 exhausting minutes, Miss Emerson had a 5-minute reprieve. Then another swarm would arrive. And another. And another. At 4:00, completely disheveled and discouraged, Miss Emerson went home. She watched the beautiful sunset, and drank a cup of something. Probably not coffee.

Miss Emerson once tried to describe her job to her friends. Most of them had normal jobs. They worked with people, not mosquitoes. They got to sit down at least once a day. They never had to deal with mosquitoes' parents, who are another whole story in themselves.

Miss Emerson's friends listened sympathetically. They nodded and smiled. Then they said in unison:

"Boy. It must be nice to get your summers off."



Fran Hill said...

Oh, yes! I recognise the analogy only too well!

The Retired One said...

Well, the corporate world wasn't much better and worse yet, the medical world where I was in Administration. Instead of tiny mosquitos, you had Doctor mosquitos who had all the power and could be arses...but because they "generated business" for the hospital, they could act like arses and never be called on it. And, in that environment, I would have killed for summers off....but got only 5 days vacation. And, no spring break, no Xmas break and worked from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day.
So, that is probably why you heard people tell you that it was nice to have summers off. A break from Hell keeps you sane!!
The Retirement Chronicles

Lesley said...

Fran: I thought you might have a mosquito or two in your life!

Retired One: I understand! Each job has its own stresses - I could never make it in the medical world, I know. I have the world's easiest job, and still I manage to find things to whine about.


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