In Response to: Being a Loser Teacher

This loser teacher has plenty to say.

Public educators are anything but losers.

In some ways, Trump-the-lesser’s comments make me realize the power we educators have. That power must be intimidating. I can influence any student in my classroom with my own beliefs, and yet – here’s the kicker – I do not. Children will listen to what I say because, in some ways, they have to, but I never take advantage of the vulnerability possessed by those who fills the seats in my classroom. My duty remains to be unbiased, although, admittedly, it has become increasingly difficult to be in 2019. Some things, in my mind, are not political issues, but rather human issues, and merely claiming allegiance to conservative or liberal ideals is a cop-out, a need to label an amalgamation of ideals, categorically systematizing complex feelings into a singular word. In my profession, I maintain a level of professionalism that is not demonstrable by the Trump clan, but this isn’t about pointing fingers.

Why is it that, since I may not align myself ideologically with the Trump administration, that I am, in turn, a socialist, with some sort of deep-seeded, covert motivation to brainwash America’s youth? On the  contrary, I want to do the opposite: build capacity for self-determination and idealization. It is possible, in this political climate, to be anti-Trump and even be a Republican. In fact, those are my favorite kind of Republicans.

Does it seem to anyone else that, by asking young “conservatives” to take “it,” whatever it is, to schools, that Trump is trying to do the kind of manipulating that he is claiming teachers do? Should I feel threatened or maligned?

In my own family, I endure passive-aggressive taunts about “piece of shit” liberals, as though my humanity warrants debasing as a result of some personal belief I uphold. Those who hurl these insults forget who I am because I simple disagree with them. That’s a sign that we now live in an America where you get to sling profane remarks at those who do not think like you do. More frustrating, possessing one liberal idea suddenly earns me the label of card-carrying liberal – or, in Trump’s assignation, “socialist.” Whether I am a liberal or not, the scarlet L is emblazoned upon my chest. Maybe that’s why it’s so easy to lump all teachers into the generalized category of “loser.”

I now wear two Ls.

It’s so important to label the “other” demeaningly, to make him or her appear threatening. This is covered in the syllabus on day one of Despot 101: how to rule like a complete and utter dick.

We, as teachers, affect infinity, and the utter trepidation that the 45 posse feels originates from a megalomaniacal need to self-preserve. Educating the youth of today to be the adults of tomorrow means we teach critical thinking, analysis, and a radar for bullshit agendas that do nothing to progress the common man or woman. Now those people may have something to say during the 2020 election.

The majority of my teaching time, I do attempt to brainwash my students: to see the importance of education, to recognize  their own self-worth and abilities, and to engage in their own learning process, seeking to tap their intellectual curiosities and capitalize on their interests.

I’m such a loser.

Anyone who understands what it means to be a teacher, and by that I mean a good teacher, realizes that socialist-like principles guide the inner workings of classroom dynamics. Students do take ownership of our intellectual and educational enterprises. Additionally, they should control both the means and the pace of production. Most importantly, everyone involved must buy in to the same belief system in order for it to function successfully. Of course, working with, as in my case, 36 moving parts, often makes this idealism remarkably challenging, but the sentiment is there: we put the students in the drivers’ seats. With them in control, I don’t have time for my “socialist” maneuverings, politically. Quite frankly, I have better things to do.

When Trump said, “You know what I love? I love seeing some young conservatives, ’cuz I know it’s not easy,” he is doing what we loser teachers do: connect. We know it is impossible to make progress without rapport. You cannot suggest learning – nudge students towards content objectives – if you cannot prove you care, relate, or “understand.” Once you do that, you can present your key points, as Trump did: “Keep up that fight, bring it to your schools. You don’t have to be indoctrinated by these loser teachers that are trying to sell you on socialism from birth. You don’t have to do it.” What’s suggested here is Trump’s pathetic attempts to Dylan Thomas young people, make them rage against the dying of some conservative light, eclipsed by “socialist,” loser teachers.

But I will not go gentle into the political night. Professionally, I am charged with immense responsibility, and, quite frankly, am tremendously insulted by the blanket insult put forth by the privileged Trump. Besides, I know he’s not not at all in touch with the kids I teach, in spite of saying, “I know it ain’t easy.” Does he? Does he really?

The teachers I know are far from losers. We are defenders of the most vulnerable of populations, crusading voices of the marginalized and muted, mentors of the most oppressed: children. We are those that spend hours thinking about the lives of those we teach, in the hours when we should be thinking about nothing else. We, the losers, are trying to make every child feel like a winner, in spite of their backgrounds, ability levels, or motivations. When people ask me why I teach, I say it’s to prepare future voters, and this has never been more true than now.

Your insults, Trump, are weak sticks to pair with your small stones. Please:

Call me a liberal.
Call me a socialist.
Call me a loser.

Just make sure that, in the same sentence, you are also calling me a teacher.

I know it ain’t easy.

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