Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Yesterday I played a focus game with my senior voice students to try and get them to concentrate.  They are like a gaggle of electrocuted geese squeaking and squawking at decibels and pitches I can never get them to sing at.  The worst culprit is a girl who is homeschooled and turns up to the academy totally starved for peer conversation and won’t shut up if I pour cement in her mouth.
So I ask them to go around the circle and state different countries and when they can’t think of a new one, they’re out.
I’ll start, I say, as they look at me blankly.  Clearly they need an example.
Australia.  Now it’s your turn, I say to the girl on my left.
No a country.
Oh right, Queensland.
That’s a state.
I think you mean Italy but yes, close enough.  Moving on.
Try again.
Which is part of…
Does Mexico count?
What about Kangaroo Island?
Oh you know, where we went to war.  Something-stan.
I think you’ll find it’s called Afghanistan, and yes it is a country.
Los Angeles.
Hong Kong.
I know us southerners like to think we’re better than Queensland, but are we really teaching our children it is its own country?  I am now very concerned about the state of our education system.  And no, the girl who was homeschooled wasn’t much better so you can’t blame the teachers.  Either the geography curriculum has completely abandoned the rest of the universe, or we are breeding some seriously silly humans.
And because they couldn’t manage to play the game, it didn’t help them to focus and they cackled and giggled their way through the hour while I tried in vain to turn their barnyard noises into a choral masterpiece.
I thought about this while I was running today.  I’ve only just started teaching them and while I would say I have control of the class, I am no Whoopi Goldberg in Sister Act.  Why are they here?  If they don’t want to be and they don’t have to be, why are they here?  In all truth, I’m not doing too badly with them and fundamentally, they do want to be in class, they’re just teenagers whose bodies’ are hormone charged tornadoes with a slow leak oozing adolescent angst, bravado, and insecurity. 
But it got me thinking about people who do things even though they don’t want to.  Like exercise.
I like to eat, but I also like to run and so far the two of them seem to be working quite nicely together to prevent me from turning into a beached whale.  But there are those for whom exercise is a torture of the highest order.  It hurts, they sweat, it’s boring, results take too long, it’s a waste of time they don’t have, it’s not social because you’re puffing so you can’t talk anyway, there’s a chance of injury, they’re not competitive even with themselves, the outfits are uncomfortable, it can be expensive…the list goes on.
And I wonder about this as I run up and down a set of stairs till I can’t run anymore and I think…they might be onto something. 
What the hell am I doing this for?
For sanity.  That’s what for.  For self-esteem - oddly enough.  I talk to myself while I’m running and repair some of the damage my chosen profession may have inflicted upon me that day.  For time-out, for perspective, for the runner’s high.  I want to do this.  It makes up for the plenty of other things I don’t want to do but have no other choice.  Like most of the jobs I have, that I do to keep afloat in the hope that another performing or writing gem will come unearthed along the way.  Not the teaching, I should clarify, I do enjoy the teaching.  Even if I feel like Old Macdonald in an acoustic barn with no escape from the animals.  Eey ay Eey ay oh. 


  1. I hear you sister!

  2. Yep, me too. Sounds like a day in my life...

  3. full time teachers are saints ladies. saints. i salute you both.


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