As you know if you teach high school, this week and next are AP exams. These are kind of a pain in the ass and lots of kids who are taking them should probably be practicing writing their names in cursive or learning to read instead. As a dear friend remarked, “If you need help filling out the personal information section of the bubble sheet, maybe you shouldn’t be taking the AP exam.” Indeed.
To be honest, it makes me sad and a little angry that we are forcing so many kids to go through what is so clearly a frustrating and deeply demoralizing experience. Worse yet, and I fear more common, there is no frustration or demoralization because mediocrity and failure have become the new achievement. Or, still worse, they stare blankly and cock their heads slightly to one side when someone says “achievement.”
But there they are. Our school has tons and tons of utterly unqualified children taking these exams. The only thing we teachers can figure is that the school just wants to get the numbers of kids taking the tests up. Hopefully when the numbers get published: A) We can only publish the number of students taking the exams; or B) Nobody will look at the second number; the number who passed. Another colleague gave a practice AP exam last week and Zero out of 22 passed it. Zero. Clearly he sucks as a teacher…Mr. Suckbad Teacherman. That’s what he is.
The other thing I want to talk to you about is a movie I just saw a few weeks ago. It is called Chalk: Real Teaching Leaves a Mark. It is a hilarious, improvisational mockumentary sort of a teaching-meets-Spinal Tap experience. And it totally nails teaching. Here is a preview. Rush out to the internet and get a copy right now. If you are or have been a teacher or administrator, you will see yourself in this film. For me the moment came when the totally exasperated first-year teacher is just sitting outside on a bench, head down and taking a big drag off a cigarette. I remember that feeling like it was yesterday. Yummy good smokes after the Dipshit Hour with Chatty, Fatty and Lazy. (But if my wife or therapist ask, I haven’t smoked since December.)
Oh yeah, Happy Teacher Appreciation week.