That’s the Way of the World

Right now I am listening to Earth Wind & Fire’s song “That’s the Way of the World.” It is one of my favorite songs from this group.

But, this song means more to me than any other song, because it makes me contemplate about what’s going on in the world today; especially with our young people. You see, I’m a high school teacher, and daily I am interacting with young people with damaged lenses. I hear the way they talk to each other and the way they talk to their teachers, and it is becoming such a lackluster generation that I’m afraid for them.

I am experiencing the attitude of students who tell me that they cannot do their homework because they are sad. That’s viable, and I am not going to knock that because it is hard to concentrate when you don’t have the motivation for it; however, it’s so sad that they are unhappy! A 15-year-old student should have so much enthusiasm for life and happiness for their future, but it is a bleak existence for them.

What’s going on? What are we, adults, putting out there that our teenagers are so hard pressed with depression? I am merely trying to get them to spell laboratory (by the way, I looked at their spelling test and yes they spelled it “lavatory”).

But, the truth is sometimes this downward spiral is contagious and causes other students to feel overwhelmed with the sadness and anxieties, and soon it is an epidemic.

What happened to “senioritis”?

Anyway, I am boggled by the heavyweight these children bear. If I had children, I would want to make sure that their young existence did not entangle with the adult world. I would hate to see my child despondent and worried about….about…

And, I guess that’s what I am trying to figure out. What are these teens worried about? I’m sure their household has its issues, and some parents cannot help but tell their children what is going on. However, at school, we teachers have expectations from them, and we want them to do their best and to do their best, we expect them to have room in their heads to ingest the explicit lessons we have prepared for them.

One of my sisters asked me if my “motivation” has run out for teaching? I’ve been churning the idea of leaving the teaching profession. However, I enjoy teaching the many works of literature to students. I am not sure if it’s the weight I feel from my students that is dragging me down or not. I am a sensitive person, and what I hear them say and what I see them do sometimes bothers me. When I want them to write quietly, they are talking; and, when I want them to share their thoughts and opinions, their mouths are shut tighter than the pursed lips of nuns who have vowed silence.

But today should be a good day. It is Friday, and I have the weekend to cleanse my emotions; to breathe and relax. But, sometimes, I can’t do that.

I believe that I am not giving my students my best. I feel defeated, and I think that they need more, and my “more” is not enough. I see how students flock to specific teachers, and maybe those teachers can give them what they want or need.

Maybe I need to teach elsewhere; perhaps I need to leave Arizona and find greener pastures where students need a teacher like me; a teacher who loves to provide the depth of life and love inside literature.

Right now, I don’t have an answer. I don’t have the words. I know that I am in an emotional spin right now, so to process my conundrum, I created this poem:

As I teach, I want to reach

the masses

my classes.

Empty eyes silent cries

but vocab and spelling words

are absurd

also, there’s a riddle in the middle

of the room

a hush blooms

one student draws a gun

and learning is done.

Now the class is in a panic

and the students’ moods are manic

and I’m working to keep hope alive

until 3:35

but the eyes are on the phones

looking like Orwell clones

Reading, writing, and an intervention

warrants their attention

until socially

and emotionally

their minds are drawn away

from the lesson of the day

There are a few

who are eager to do

the work I’ve prescribed

literature and writing they have imbibed

and I have reached more than one

before the setting of the sun;

a little wisdom pearled

and yes, that’s the way of the world.

Author: L.S. Watson

Hi. My name is L.S. Watson, and I'm an English teacher at a charter high school. I enjoy traveling (my favorite places are Rome and Paris), writing poetry, and watching documentaries. I have a lovable yet stubborn Yorkie-Poo named Chuy.

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