You can't tell me what to do! I'm not a child anymore!
A generation gap is supposed to be that lack of understanding and communication between people coming from different generations. (Yeah, as if there was no punk subculture in the 70s) Ever since I started teaching, my entire perspective changed. I feel I've grown ten or twenty years, when in fact my students are of my same age, sometimes older.
I insist on having order, and forcing order to unruly teenagers in my book means getting angry, or punitive actions; kicking them out of class, yelling...etc. Frankly, I never liked being yelled at and never respected a teacher who does so. Whenever I imagined myself teaching I would promise myself to control my anger if someone is rude. Afterall, no one appreciates authority, and you are a symbol of authority. Change your attitude to fit a calm and strict image of a teacher,but lo, instincts prevail. Always.
Students, and people in general, have the ability to drive you off the edge. Yes, you actually fly off the handle, lose grip, choose whatever idiom in the Webster English-English Dictionary there is. They do. I once had a student who, although smart, was offensive, aggressive, cowardly and even had a stinking breath. It was the worst kind of person you could deal with and I had to deal with him every single day of my life. I had to hear all of the delicious names he used to call his classmates - in my presence. I would advise him, listen to him, warn him, yell at him. Nothing worked. All I got in return was a heart attack.
But I've loved them, every single student I taught. It was like an insinctive passion that drifts beyond my control, like a mother to her newborn. There are, of course, some whom I would not like to see again, but it has never been so bitter to the extent of hate or wishing anyone to be pulled apart under a train or anything. Afterall, teachers should be impartial. If it is love you should give, give it to all. And...hell all the same.
Today, I was proctoring an exam, and amid the hustle I found a student attempting a conversation with the one behind her. I was aggravated, and wanted to let her know that I'm watching over, but just asked her calmly,"Do you have a question?" She blushed and shook her head.
A moment later, the girl behind her started moving her lips. I was livid. I motioned to her firmly,'The girl at the back...move to the middle of the bench.'
I was flabberghasted to even be a witness of the coming scene, let alone be part of it. She looked at me, banged at her desk and shrieked 'DON'T YOU CALL ME "GIRL AT THE BACK"! YOU SHOULD TELL ME,"PLEASE MOVE..." '
Happily, I didn't have a mental block, I didn't faint or burst into tears. I immediately yelled back, 'What should I be telling you? And in any case don't tell me what to say and what not to say!'
She kept protesting for a moment and the elderly professor present intervened.
I could see that she was shaking and for some ten minutes she didn't write anything. Call me a demon, but I couldn't care less. I was quite at ease when the professor whispered to me, 'I know this girl from last year. She's a cheater. You did the right thing.'
In fact, I felt horrible. Not because I yelled at her, believe me I would have had no pride left if I hadn't, but because I suddenly found myself a stigmatised figure. On the other side. A person on the other shore who does not feel for the students and who was yelling at one while she was having her exam. I knew quite well that this was what the other students thought, and every now and then I would look at them and feel guilty. There was no way I would have allowed her to cheat. And no way I wouldn't have told her that she shouldn't be talking in this disrespectful manner, to say the least. But I know that they would have none of it. Now I am part of their built-in horrid image of a teacher. I did my best to clear it by being unnecassarily nice to a couple of them, anyway.
This girl was in fourth year, probably for the second time, so as I get it she was my age or one year younger at most. Then, how come we are so different? I mean...how come we couldn't manage getting this thing done without clashing and irritating one another? I felt like there was a huge generation gap between us!
When I was a teenager (assuming I have actually left this status behind), I didn't always feel that I fit in. Or maybe this really is the way of the world for teenagers. Other girls wore flashy clothes and I didn't. Other girls were loud, talkative and popular, and I wasn't. Others were lonely and alienated, I still wasn't. Teenagers smoked hash and had partners, and I didn't.
And now where do I fit? If I am the same generation as they are and still feel a world away...where do I go?