20 March 2005

too cool for school

I don't know that I make a very good teacher.

Sunday nights I teach a 45 minute creative writing class for Jewish high schoolers; it is part of a program of classes to nurture teens connections to Judaism/Jewishness. So, mostly parents make their kids go.

This is the second semester I have taught creative writing, and I have several of the same students as last year. They like the class, but I am not sure if it is just because I'm more lax and casual with them. I think the creative writing part of it holds some attraction for them; I'm sure it's more fun than learning Hebrew or examining Torah.

However, it is often difficult to get to the creative writing part. My class is so chatty, but not in a rudely defiant way. And I'm lenient toward the chatter--partly because I enjoy engaging in it with them. They are smart, funny kids, and while I can play a mature adult role, I still feel so young so I can easily relate with them.

Thus, they feel free to talk as they would with each other in front of me. They swear, admit to drinking.

And they make fun of me.
Not in the behind-the-back, rolling of the eyes way but the way friends rip on each other. So, tonight they asked me if I was popular in high school, to which I immediately replied "No." I explained that I was sorta a band geek, editor of the yearbook smarty pants. They asked what instrument I played.

My reply—Crash cymbals—elicited peals of laughter.
They all agreed: That was the instrument saved for mentally challenged students. One student said that they stuck a Puerto Rican student on cymbals because he couldn't speak English and the other two players were wheelchair bound.
As if I didn't already have trouble getting my class to take me seriously.

We were not productive in a school-sense tonight, and while I enjoyed listening and talking, I feel guilty. I feel that I don't know when to draw the line in class. Or rather I do, but I would rather socialize. In a way, this program is more about keeping Jewish teens connected with each other, so I rationalize that I'm faciilitating that. I think that if it were a more serious place of learning I would be more diligent and strict, but I'm not sure. Maybe I am just trying to fulfill a need for approval from high school students. This time, though, I'm ten years older than them.

No comments: