It will come as no news to most of you that I have no children – that I know of, and since nobody has hit me up for anybody’s upkeep or education, I think i am safe to assume the belief is true – and no children are planned.
I had a brief and still cherished foray as a stepdad, but I have mentioned that before and won’t be going there again in this space.
But, none of this means that young people haven’t figured prominently in my life. I was, as many might know, a secondary teacher for about seven years, many years ago. And, even though I was pretty good at the gig and liked the pedagogical process, the hidebound system that reeked of favoritism and a good-ole-boys net, did not sit well with me. In fact, it sat so badly and sadly with me that I can still get pissed off if I think about it for too long. So, I won’t be doing that here, either.
What I will consider here in lieu is some of my former students. A person amasses a lot of youthful charges in seven years. Some of those charges are remembered not so fondly; some are, sadly, forgotten; some were just there and went on their respective ways years ago; and some are still, one way or another, part of my life and I deeply value my connections with them.
These are the people whom I regard as peers, with some of them being gratifyingly successful in what they have done with their lives, and I take no credit for their successes. Nobody should ever take much credit for the success of another except, perhaps, they provided a certain guidance when it was needed.
A lot my Facebook friends are former students and we meet in that forum as peers. It’s nice. I like being a small part of their lives and I cherish their successes. They are my grown up kids, after all. And considering how long ago it was when I stood in front of a classroom, they are very grown up indeed.
(To give you an idea of what I’m about here; just checked my email inbox. Of the seven items showing on the screen, two of them are emails or notifications from former students).
And to set the record straight on the realities of life for a high school teacher when I was at it. It was nothing like The Blackboard Jungle (pictured), no switchblades and other nasty items. I was never told to “fuck off”, I never had any intimate physical contact with a female student, albeit a lot of them were amazingly attractive and the odd libidinous fantasy crossed my mind. But in my mind was where it stayed.
I don’t know if I truly inspired a kid like Mr. Braithwaite did in To Sir With Love, a film that, ironically enough, came into being in my first year teaching and of which a dear young girl wrote that sentiment in my yearbook. But, she wrote it in shorthand and I had to get my former steno mother to translate it for me.
So, whether or not I inspired any of them, some of them have inspired me for their attainments.
As is the case with many demographics life wasn’t always kind. Some have passed from the scene prematurely. Others have run afoul of addictions and even the law. Some were mad and some were bad, even bad to the bone as the song goes.
But others became doctors and lawyers, experts in fields as diverse as economics and psychology. I had an internationally famed movie star among my charges, and a woman I happen to think is one of the best journalists and editors I have ever encountered. Throw a couple of exceedingly accomplished and successful musicians into that mix, and some fine artists and all I can say is the kids were and are all right.
And some, likely the majority just became decent citizens who raised good families and contributed well to the general weal of society.
Today I had conversations, purely by accident, with three former students. The encounters were pleasing adjuncts to my day.
Proud of my kids I am and this thought came about as a result of some chance encounters today.