Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Inner City Kids

People always use teachers as the prime example of a profession they admire, but a job they'd never do. They're really glad somebody else does it, but they always ask me really probing questions about what it's like. I'll tell you what it's not like. BOSTON PUBLIC or the new sitcom TEACHERS, DANGEROUS MINDS or SUMMER SCHOOL. Most of your problems are pretty mundane: kids skipping, talking back, refusing to do homework, asking dumb questions three hundred times, stealing your markers and asking to go to the bathroom every single day. I don't usually deal with extreme tests of my spunky will. I'd never bring alcohol to school like the sitcom, although I have known teachers who do. I'd certainly be fired for taking the kids on a non-sanctioned field trip, as they did in a recent episode, although the idea that a principal would forbid a trip to see ROMEO AND JULIET is ridiculous. I've never seen anyone order a class set of books and have them delivered the same day, as they did on BOSTON PUBLIC.

What I have seen is two completely different worlds of education. For years I taught rural kids in the middle of North Carolina's piedmont region. True contry kids. For a senior prank, they put a spray-painted, pregnant goat on the roof of the school.

Then I came here to Los Angeles, where I teach the inner city kids. It's like a different planet. My students told me they have never seen a live snake, think running around barefoot in the dirt is absurd, and think every white person back East is in the Klan. It's a different world, a different culture. My school is 93% Latino, 7% black. That's it. No white kids, no Asian kids, and an elegant mix of colloquial Spanish and English floats through the halls all day.

But the kids I teach now and the kids I taught back in NC are the same at heart. They get bored when they have to read long passages. They want to watch movies all day, unless they actually do watch movies all day; then they complain that they've been watching movies all day. They all love Baz Luhrmann's ROMEO + JULIET.


  1. Anonymous3:05 PM

    isnt english + spanish esperanto?

  2. No. Esperanto is a language made up of phonic symbols more than anything else. It is not derived directly from any existing language. I'm talking about interchanging English words with Spanish words without really any distinction. Like changing languages mid-sentence.


Please leave a name, even if it's a fake name. And try not to be an asshole.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.