Whenever I come across the word monotonous, I can’t help myself from asking my students a certain question, to which I’m always left a bit disheartened: “Has anyone ever had a monotonous teacher before? You know, who sounds like, [then I channel Ben Stein from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off: Bueller...Bueller…].” To which the kids answer a groaning, “Yessssssss.”
In today’s society, the insistence of following your passion is everywhere. There are schools of people, from Tony Robbins to Steve Jobs, urging the masses to satisfy their inner desires and avoid leading lives of quiet desperation. And that’s why teachers like Ben Stein absolutely boggle my mind. Because when people sign up to become secondary teachers they get to choose which subject they want to teach. And I’m guessing that they probably chose it for a reason, being interest, or better yet, passion for the subject matter.
When I was in high school, I had no interest whatsoever in Chemistry. Why in the world should I care about atoms? I can’t even see them, and they’re basically going to do their thing whether I know about their existence or not. Walking into class on the first day of school I was already over it, and to top it all off in my mind, I was confronted by a nutcase. My teacher was sporting an ear-to-ear grin, bouncing off the walls like he just pounded a package of Pixie Stix. He thought Chemistry was the greatest thing since sliced bread. My first thought was that this guy needed to be committed. But by the end of the period, I didn’t absolutely hate the class. I was actually curious about it. Was there something I was missing? I mean, if this guy is so fired up about Chemistry, maybe it could be interesting. So I decided to temporarily suspend my reservations. By the end of the year, I wasn’t planning on becoming a Chemistry major, but I did learn, and I had fun. My teacher’s vivacity opened a door for me that was shut, locked, and dead-bolted before day one. Enthusiasm is like yawning; it’s contagious.
I give my freshmen students a questionnaire on the first day of school so I can get to know them better. After one of my new students told me that her least favorite subject is English, she said, “I notice that you have a passion and love for English. All I ask of you is, could you share some with me? I think you’re right, and hopefully by the end of the year I will probably like English. But I just have to go over this speed bump disliking it.”
I’m looking forward to the day when I go through my monotonous spiel and the answer to my question is simply, “No.”
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