It seems like there is nearly always some degree of tension in teaching a subject area that you really love. Most teachers seem to choose something they are passionate about, something that they see as interesting, engaging and important.
Enter the reluctant adolescents.
Through force of mandated requirements, parental pressure or sheer stroke of scheduling, they find themselves stuck in classes taking subjects about which they know very little and care even less. Maybe their friend is taking third period Art class so they sign up for third period Art class. Maybe they have to have another year of math and yours is the only section left open. For whatever reason, they are stuck with you and you are stuck with them.
Of course, the incredible teachers in the movies are able to unlock the secret gateway to every student’s true love and passion and stir in each of them an insatiable desire and thirst for whatever subject it is that incredible teachers teach. The classroom transforms, usually within three days or less, into a dynamo of learning, enthusiasm and the deepest possible fulfillment of discovery and expression. That’s how it is for incredible teachers in the movies.
The rest of us try to figure out some way to engage the engage-able, thwart the mutinous, console the phobic, and survive for the current semester. Along the way, we manage to cover a respectable amount of material and generally agree to not kill, maim or cripple anyone in the process, at least not with malice aforethought. Usually, we find a few students who truly possess or develop an appreciation of the subject that we teach. Every now and then, we even change a life or two.
I used to think this was especially the case with teaching high school. Now, I think it’s much the same at the college level.
For one thing, many entering freshmen and sophomores are still more adolescent than adult. A society that at one time seemed to expect some level of adult behavior from humanoids that are twenty years old has now extended its apparent acceptance of adolescent behavior clear through grad school. And these humanoids still enroll in classes they really don’t want to take for the same reasons as in high school: graduation requirements, where their friends are and scheduling issues.
And so, college teachers and professors find themselves dealing with the same issues as their public school counterparts: irresponsibility, lack of interest and behavior. It is never easy to watch people all but spit on what is precious and dear to you. Which is something I should keep in mind the next time I’m about to be flippant or irreverent about something that is precious and dear to someone else. And I should also remember that I am not the only person on the planet who still needs a Teacher who can see through my adolescent anger and insecurity, who can see the person that I could become. Who will also love and discipline me until I become that person, who will never give up on completing His work in me.