At one time, for actually a quite long period of time, I thought I wanted to teach high school English. I had romantic ideas about how I would share my love of literature and language with the students in such a way that they would actually understand why we learn it. It isn’t about reading, or writing in entirety, but about how to express humanity. It’s the only real way to connect all human beings…it’s an art. Black and whites, and things that are mathematical make sense, but don’t make us make sense to each other. That is where the written word and literary devices enter the field. They would realize this, and I would get them there.
However, the more I learned about the nature of high schoolers at UNCA, or while coaching this age group in cheerleading, the more disheartened I grew. I couldn’t do it…I didn’t want to hear them say, “I jus’ hate readin’,” over and over again. I had no argument for it either, because they weren’t interested in learning about others. I didn’t know how to make my passion drip into them, and they need that kind of teacher. I couldn’t be big enough to put up with their rolling eyes, and disrespect for their own kind. They didn’t care about communication, culture, psychology, or any aspect of life that connects themselves to others. They’d rather just deal with things that affect them directly….like chain texts, rampant rumors, Jersey Shore, and proving to everyone they care about nothing. Caring is so uncool…
I’m a little jaded and cynical about this subject. When I talk about it, I tend to sound like a pretentious bitch, situated rigidly on my high horse. All I have to say about that is, I have a short-coming. I couldn’t be that kind of teacher for them, that kind that can take all the blows, to get to just one. There’s a better man for that job, and I wish it were me, but it just isn’t. Maybe one day, when I write something someone out there will read, I will tug at a heart that way…maybe then. However, I couldn’t be the teacher America needs so many more of…I can blame it on my nature, or I can blame it on my literary idol…Fitzgerald said,
“That is the part of the beauty of literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.”
That quote sums up so much of the reason I love what I love, and holds me hostage by taunting me with the fact I know I can never make someone else believe it like I do. Literature is that powerful thread that keeps us sane, and keeps empathy alive. It’s not the part of us that bleeds when pricked; that’s divinity…but it is the part that can touch others with that divinity…communicate that divinity. If only the youth wouldn’t forget that. Teaching it wasn’t my calling, though I hoped it would be. I just hope that I truly live on the other side of it….the side where writers produce the great things that makes this quote a reality. I want to be the literature.~