Monday, April 21, 2008

A Classroom Full of Squares, Man

Is anyone truly hip anymore?

I asked myself this question recently, when I realized how long it’s been since anyone accused me of repressing his natural creativity or forcing him to adapt to a soulless society bent on conformity and consumerism. In fact, no one has accused me of stultifying his oneness with the universe in a long time, and I feel pretty bad about that.

For those of you who are wondering, I’m a high school teacher, so I’m supposed to belong to the oppressor class. How can I truly teach kids unless they feel that I’m violating their basic rights as human beings? Taking away their iPods and cell phones doesn’t count. Anything that can be bought in a Wal-Mart is not a major contributor to life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness.

Which leads to my next question: Does anyone out there even want to be part of a counterculture? I’m not talking about cults; I’m referring to an old fashioned, grass roots movement dedicated to rejecting the norms of mainstream society—or, put another way, smugly dismissing the majority as hopeless fools and automatons while convincing yourself that only you and your friends really “get” what it’s all about. Remember Elvis? Beatniks? Hippies? Remember how angry some people used to get over long hair? Remember how incensed adults got whenever kids yelled “You Archie Bunker!” to belittle their parents’ values?

I miss those days.

Last week, a kid in my homeroom asked me what my house was like. I told him I didn’t live in a house; I lived in a condo. He stared at me. “You don’t live in a house?” he inquired, obviously baffled. “No,” I answered. “Houses take a lot of maintenance. I prefer to do other things with my time.” “But don’t you want a lawn, man?” the kid asked. We stared at each other.

This kid’s hair was purple and green and tufted into a Mohawk cut. His nose, lip, and eyebrows were pierced.

“I’m not interested in mowing and landscaping a yard,” I explained to him. He continued to stare. “You really don’t want a house,” he repeated. “You don’t want a lawn.” I might have just revealed that I ate babies on Thanksgiving.

What’s happened to all the hip people? The far-out dudes? (Pardon the antiquated jargon; that’s why I’m so very uncool. And therefore should be an oppressor. You see my point.)

Just once, for old time’s sake, I wish someone would cast a withering look upon me and say, “You can’t hold me down, man. My consciousness is too far above yours. That’s right, dude. You’ve got no soul. They’ve taken it away from you.”

Nah. Probably wouldn’t happen. Too many sales on right now.




Donald Gallinger is author of the novel The Master Planets

View Donald Gallinger's official website blog: http://www.donaldgallinger.com/dons-blog.html


4 comments:

Hal-Kar said...

Don,
I know what you mean. I'm a retired teacher myself, and, at one time, the biggest complaint students had was that teachers treated them "like kids". More recently, students stopped complaining of such treatment. In fact, I think they preferred to be treated like kids. I think they realize, intuitively, that, as "kids", they don't have to act responsibly, or stop playing video games, or just acting like pampered children. Why rebel against an Establishment that cushions them from life's sharp edges and indulges their adolescent immaturity? Sure, they'll "rebel" in their clothes or piercings, maybe, but not in any way that might have real consequences for them.

Doni Tamblyn, author, Laugh and Learn said...

Wow, insightful point. I'm NOT a teacher, but from everything I hear and observe, I think you're onto something there. Case in point: I couldn't wait to graduate high school in order to get out on my own, and all my classmates felt the same way. But kids now seem to (and seem to expect to) live with their parents indefinitely after high school.

Amidala said...

You mean your school's dress code allows the funky hair color and style??? I'm shocked!
I am a teacher and I realize that the more I "baby" the kids the more they act like babies. But when I try to be the strict disciplinarian (spelling??? been a long day...) they revolt and act 10 times worse. What do you do? I've tried ignoring them but they don't go away. Some days I feel like the Darth Vader of discipline and others... well, you get the picture.

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