Category Archives: Education

The Girl Who Didn’t Believe in God (and other stories)

As a teacher, my job is the most fascinating of all. Teaching isn’t the best part of it by far. It’s the conversations I have with my students, what I learn from them, about them and about life that make me go back every day. I’ve taught  students of virtually all ages, and though children and teenagers are my favorites, I’ve warmed up to some young adults, too. It’s all about the stories I get to hear, the fact that I get to be there for them, with them, to see them grow, as students, as people, as human beings.

Of course, I don’t want to break my students’ trust by any means, and I’m keeping this anonymous. But there are stories I want to tell. Stories only someone who’s been in a classroom hears. They’re beautiful, fascinating, heartbreaking. In each of my students’ eyes, I look for their stories. Maybe because I’m a storyteller, and a reader, at heart.

student__teacher_2

From a ten year old, maybe I’ve heard the one I’ve felt the closest to my heart. Not the most important, because I don’t rate them. But the one I could truly identify with, even if our circumstances were somewhat different. Teaching English to E, she told me, among “I dos” and “I didn’t knows”, that kids at school shunned her out. They didn’t exactly bully her per se, but mostly excluded her. I asked her why, and she told me she doesn’t believe in God. I asked why doesn’t she, not as a reprimand, but out of pure curiosity, especially because E went to the same catholic school I went to. She told me her father and her sister don’t believe in God, either, and she didn’t see how it made sense. She explained me very eloquently in her ten year old words, why she didn’t believe in the same thing everyone she knew did. “That’s how they talk about me,” she told me. “You know E? Yeah, the girl who doesn’t believe in God.” And that stuck with me. Because for years I felt left out in my catholic school. Not that I don’t believe in God, but because I don’t believe the same.

I explained to E that at ten years old, it’s very hard for kids to understand different beliefs and why they exist. It’s very difficult for them to respect and include those who don’t participate in the same kinds of activities. And, even as I did tell her that as you grow up you realize that what feels now to be such fundamental difference doesn’t really affect all your friendships in the future, you kind of always feel a little bit the odd one out when you see the world differently from most people you know. It’s hard to find people who believe like you do. But we’re lucky, I said. We have our families. And once in a while, we find someone, I said. “Like you?” she asked me. “Like me,” I told her.

Twelve year old M told me her mother had told her God was the most important thing in her life. (I’m not following a pattern, I swear. It’s just an interesting story), but she didn’t know what she believed in. I asked why, and she said she didn’t know. I told her what I believe in, which is in spiritual evolution, communication with spirits, reincarnation — in short. She told me she didn’t believe me in spirits because her best friend had died in a car crash and she had never seen her ghost. I stopped short on my tracks, trying to think of a smart thing to say. I had none. I told her I don’t believe that’s how it happens, that seeing someone who passed away isn’t healthy to neither the person who passed to the ones who stayed. But I don’t think it helped.

Once, I told my eight year old student she was very cute. She said, “I’m not cute, I’m ugly as a cow.” I had absolutely no response to that. I muttered an “of course you’re not.”  but I have to confess that’s when I’ve been the most speechless. I debated telling her mother that she felt that way, or expressed herself that way, but I didn’t feel I was intimate enough to do so.

Once, I was sharing a personal story with a student I had befriended — I will do that sometimes — because I happened to be upset that day. She was older, almost my age. Twenty-four at the time. We were talking, but she was the one who told me that when she was a teenager, she got to weight 80lbs and no one noticed. “The hardest thing in life,” I told her, “is living with someone, waking up, going to school, working, coming home, sharing meals, everything, and them not noticing how much you’re hurting.” She cried. And said I was the one who ended up helping her.

A sixteen year old student told me once she wanted to save herself for marriage. I told her she felt that way now, but just wait until she met a guy she really wanted to be with. Chances were, she wouldn’t. She would change a lot, and she would see that saving herself, despite idealistic, wasn’t really a great practical idea. She’s still saving herself (I think!)

I think about my conversations with my students often. They make me a greater person. They make me a greater teacher. I love that they trust me to be part of their lives. (And I hope they don’t mind me blogging about them — all anonymous, I promise, guys!) ❤ It reminds me of when I was a student and I shared my life with my teachers!

What about you, guys? Any great students stories you wanna share? What about you guys who aren’t teacher? Ever had a great moment with a teacher? Share away!

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Filed under Education, Jobs, Life in General, School, Stories, Teaching

The Super Overprotective World We Live In

Yes, I said Super Overprotective.

But, before I get to that, I’m back. I finally have time to blog again after the Semester-From-Hell at University. I want to make this constant and fun and I hope my few  loyal readers haven’t abandoned me 🙂

I’ve wanted to talk about this for a long time now. It’s something that gets to me every time I see any time I see censoring of any sort, every time I read articles on how teachers should interfere with bullying, every time parents say children should not watch this or that because it’s “too violent” or too scary. Mind you, I’m not talking about sexual content here, because, obviously, I don’t think five yeaR olds should be watching HBO produced tv shows. Still… stay with me.

I remember when I was a child, and my school had nap time, during which time, us kids that didn’t want to sleep were allowed to bring a movie from home to watch with the other kids. I went there from about 6-10, and I clearly remember watching, during nap time, with my other kid friends, Child’s Play, Bride of Chucky, Alien, Jumanji, Anaconda, Starship Troopers, Scream. I know there have been more. I also know none of us kids were terribly damaged and traumatized by watching horror movies during nap time at 7 years old.

Chucky

There were blood and guts and we screamed and cried and laughed and played pranks on each other. We’d hide in the dark and scare the hell out of the scaredy cats. When the characters we liked died, we cried. We hugged when the ones we liked survived the spree killing. I vividly remember that. The teachers? They were right that with us, watching the movies and watching us kids. The parents? They were the ones who sent the movies for us to watch — we brought them from home, remember?

I remember when I was a kid  and Candyman aired on tv. I must’ve been 7 or 8. Next day, EVERY KID in my class had watched it. I think we spent every free moment we had in the bathroom gathering up the guts to speak his name five times in front of the mirror in the bathroom.

I come from a generation when kids watched horror movies and saw blood and guts and played with it. They said Candyman’s name in front of the mirror then ran away screaming bloody murder. I come from a generation when we played Power Rangers during recess  and engaged in fist fights and high kicks. And that’s okay, you know?

I come from a generation when kids would stand up from themselves. It ticks me out so badly nowadays, when people make such a big deal about “bullying”. I’m sorry, but back when I was a kid, someone messed with you, you punched them in the face, and it was done with. This whole politically correct thing of “protecting your child” and “understanding your child” only leads to children that can’t stand up for themselves.

It leads to schools doing for children what they should be able to learn to do alone. When I was a kid, we took matters in our own hands, we solved our own problems. At six, seven, eight years old, we had much more independence than I see kids do nowadays. Independence to fight our own fights.

It’s funny, because I grew up watching horror flicks during nap time, and I see  the things kids are exposed to nowadays, and, in a way, it makes me flinch. Not only because it’s oversexualized, but because  he values it brings on to children are these values of overprotection and pseudo-independence.

Me? I’ll try and raise my children on the horror side of things, and teaching them to punch back first and tell the teacher later. Believe me, it works better.

So, what do you think about this overprotective culture? Do you think people are right to shelter their kids from these “monsters”? Or they’d better just teach them to stand up to them? Let’s chat! I’ve missed you all! 🙂

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Filed under Bullying, Education, Life in General, Movies

The Teacher Becomes You

I’m not sure how it happened. You know how it goes, don’t you? When something sneaks up on you and boom, takes over your life, your being, your heart and your soul. That’s sort of how it was for me. One day, I was just me. Next thing I knew, I was someone who was beyond myself and out into the world.

Because that’s what a teacher does. They give a part of themselves to the world. Every time they get into the classroom, they leave something of themselves behind (and, kid yourself not, they take something with them — and many times, I feel I learn more than I teach — for teaching is also learning), they leave a little bit of knowledge to a world of so many unknowns.

They leave words, sentence, numbers, strategies, laughs. Being the daughter of professors, I could never have imagined teaching was passed through the blood. I could never have imagined, as I struggled through Law School and Philosophy, that the teaching fever coursed through my veins. But it doesn’t make me ill, it makes me alive.

Sometimes, as I look at my students, who often remind me so much of myself, and I wonder what I would have done then, if a beloved teacher had told me: “That’s who you’re going to be.” (I’d probably have said, “You’re out of your mind!”)  But I was the one who was out of my mind, then.

But I seem to have found my way. Or rather, my way seems to have found me. Because one thing I’ve always heard about teachers is that you don’t become a teacher. The teacher becomes you. And, boy, once it does, there’s no turning back.

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Sobre o Christus e o ENEM

Quando eu tinha onze anos e fui finalmente mudar de escola, os conselhos que me deram foram muitos. A maioria deles envolvia meu comportamento e como eu não ia durar uma semana num colégio cheio de regras como o Christus. Também me disseram que, em um colégio tão grande, os alunos eram apenas números, que ninguém conhecia você pelo nome, que não sabiam quem você era. Claro, para uma criança que vinha de uma escola cooperativa e “pedagógica”, e, sim, tem um motivo para as aspas, aquilo foi apavorante. Eu cheguei no Christus esperando alguma coisa como a escola do filme Matilda (sabe como é, né? que as crianças ficavam atrás de uma porta com espinhos de ferro de castigo na sala da diretora e tal). Mas o que eu encontrei foi algo completamente diferente.

Primeiro, que o Colégio Christus sempre foi, na minha experiência, uma escola muito mais pedagógica do quew o colégio cooperativo que eu estudei. É engraçado, sabe? Quando eu era criança, tinha problemas de comportamento porque eu ficava entediada porque as aulas eram muito fáceis para mim, e, num colégio, que em tese, pregava a singularidade dos alunos, eu era vista como uma criança problemática. Em oposição, quando eu entrei no Christus, num colégio que, em tese, eu seria “mais um número”, eu nunca tive absolutamente nenhum problema. Aliás, ser um número foi algo que nunca aconteceu comigo. Se tem uma coisa que eu nunca vou poder reclamar do colégio é que não conhece os alunos. Porque todos os coordenadores e praticamente todos os professores que eu tive me conheciam pelo nome, e, não só eu, a maioria de meus colegas. Até hoje, anos depois que saí do colégio, se encontro antigos professores na rua, eles sabem quem eu sou. Mais um número? Tá bom, né?

Outra coisa que sempre falaram foi da intolerância religiosa. Porque o Christus é um colégio católico, que tem educação religiosa, e, me diziam, que não aceitavam pessoas de outras religões. E eu pensava, “Pronto! Fudeu!” (Tá, eu tinha onze anos, não pensava assim não, eu era inocente, mas o sentido era esse!). Achava que iam empurrar em mim crenças e valores que não eram meus. Mas isso nunca aconteceu. Sempre tive total liberdade para me expressar religiosamente (e de qualquer outra forma), para argumentar, para não participar de eventos religiosos (estudei lá por SEIS ANOS e NUNCA participei de NENHUM, incluindo a missa de formatura!). Nunca me chamaram atenção por isso, nunca me criticaram, nunca me julgaram. Os valores que o Colégio Christus me ensinou foram de caráter e integridade, e levo comigo até hoje.

Aí, nessa semana, a coisa explode. “Vazamento” de questões do ENEM no Colégio Christus, escola do Ceará, colégio corrupto, sem valores, sem moral, sem integridade, que tipo de exemplo estão dando para seus alunos, e BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH… Nas redes socias, os ataques locais e nacionais, na maioria das vezes, por parte de pessoas que não tem a menor noção sobre a história da intituição, sobre os valores, sobre as conquistas, e, mas importante, sobre o tipo de pessoa que trabalha lá. Porque quando você vai para um lugar todos os dias da sua vida por seis anos (e meu irmão estuda lá há onze!), você conhece as pessoas. É muito fácil para quem não estudar lá falar que houve vazamento das questões, que o colégio é corrupto, que isso e aquilo, quando eles nem sabem como as coisas acontecerem realmente. Para falar a verdade, eu também não sei.

Mas eu sei de alguns fatos: sei que o Ministro da Educação está concorrendo para a prefeitura de São Paulo e precisava de um bode expiatório, precisava abafar o caso o mais rápido possível, e jogou toda a culpa, em MENOS DE VINTE QUATRO HORAS em cima de um único colégio. Sei que quem postou sobre as questões num caderno de questões do Christus era aluno de outra instituição, que também teve acesso às questões, então anular a prova dos alunos do Colégio Christus é uma medida ridícula, porque obviamente outros alunos tiveram acesso à prova: ou anula de todos, ou de nenhum, só as questões. Sei que as questões já tinham sido aplicada ao PÚBLICO antes, para mais de 100 MIL pessoas, então eles mesmo já tinham quebrado a isonomia da prova, deixando essas pessoas em vantagem, essas questões nem deveriam, ou poderiam estar, iguais no teste.

E, principalmente, sei, que seja lá como as questões apareceram no banco de dados do colégio, seja lá quem botou não esperava vê-las iguais na prova do ENEM. E não falo isso porque é um colégio íntegro e moral — o que acredito com tudo que eu tenho que é — mas por que desafia a lógica e o bom senso que eles fariam isso. Gente, pelo amor de Deus! Eles não são burros! Deixando moral de lado, claro que saberiam que se fraudassem, comprassem ou sei lá o que, todo mundo ia saber. O Colégio Christus tem 61 anos de tradição! Uma reputação impecável! Ano passado, teve a maior média no ENEM no Ceará (e antes que alguém vá falar que foi o Farias Brito, a palavra média, quer dizer SOMA de todas as sedes, E A DIVISÃO pelo número de sedes). Eles não iam acabar essa reputação, essa tradição por um número mísero de questões, menos de 10% da prova. Lógica e bom senso também foram valores que eu aprendi na escola (além da educação em casa, mãe, eu sei, brigada!). Eu fiz vestibular em 2005 quando estudava no Christus, passei em duas faculdades, sem me darem nenhuma questão da prova. Eles me deram ensinamento, conteúdo, apoio, casa. Não respostas da prova antes. Em 2008, quando eu quis mudar de faculdade porque não estava gostando, eu assisti duas semanas de revisão no Christus, passei em mais duas faculdades! De novo, sem respostas dada! Se as pessoas pararem para pensar antes de julgar, antes de sair gritando sem saber do que tão falando, vão ver que o que elas tão dizendo não faz o menor sentido.

Espero que a justiça seja feita, pelo Colégio Christus, pelo qual tenho tanto carinho e admiração, e cuja reputação eu sei que é íntegra, e pelos alunos, que estudaram tanto o ano todo, perderam noites, fins de semana se preparando para essa prova.

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