You’re sitting in a classroom and all you see when you look around are people who “get it.”
But you’re not one of those people, and the teacher keeps moving along because everyone else seems to understand.
You begin to raise your hand but think better of it.
“Not in this class, they’ll all think I’m stupid,” you tell yourself. “I’ll just pretend I understand and figure it out later.”
But you don’t figure it out and now you’re getting further behind and it’s not only one class.
Now you’ve found some others who don’t understand and you sit together in class, whisper to each other, make jokes and wait for the teacher to tell you to be quiet.
Eventually, even if you understand, it doesn’t seem that important anymore and you’ve discovered a few other kids who don’t understand or don’t care and you begin to think it’s kind of fun to get the teacher upset enough to yell.
Your friends laugh and the other students don’t say much.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know you’re trying to teach and I’m interrupting and if I need help I should ask, but why should I ask if everyone will think I’m stupid? And besides, lots of people laugh when you yell at me,” you reason to yourself as the teacher continues to talk even though you’ve stopped listening because it’s the fourth time this week you’ve heard the same speech.
Eventually, a bunch of people are trying to counsel you and they ask if you need help and it’s really getting frustrating and you really are starting to feel stupid.
One teacher wants you to see the counselor.
Another asks if you want to stay after school for extra help. The math teacher asks if you might want to be tested for a learning disability.
“What is wrong with these people? I just want to be left alone and get through this day so I can get out of school and go somewhere I am appreciated.”
When they call your parents and ask if there is anything going on at home or in your life that is causing your behavior issues, your mom and dad get on your case and you can’t get any peace at home.
“Maybe I’ll just drop out and get a job and start living my life the way I want,” you tell yourself as you’re leaving the principal’s office on the day he threatens to kick you out of school for truancy.
But as you’re walking out of automotives class that same day, the teacher looks up at you and says, “Hey, nice job on that rebuild. Could you help me with this carburetor some time this week?”
And you go in after school and help the teacher and begin to strike up a conversation about big-block versus small block engines.
And then it happens:
You ask him a question about something you don’t understand.
And you never forget him.
That’s why I teach.
Lance Scranton is a Moffat County High School teacher and coach. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.