Monday, August 23, 2010

First Day of School

It’s that time of year – back to school! The smell of newly sharpened pencils, the sound of freshly cracked books, the colorful array of new clothes on children coming back for another year of education is an exciting experience not only for students but also spectators. I always get a little nostalgic when school starts again. I loved school. How can you not? I mean sure, the people sometimes sucked and the food was awful and many of the assignments were bull shit but every new year was a chance to start over again. I miss the mind-set that anything could happen and I can do anything. That hopeful innocence gets lost over time. I still feel like I can do anything but it’s different. (that’s my niece, Madeline, in the picture on her first day of Kindergarten 2009 )

In Austin regular schools start today while the Universities and Colleges start on Wednesday. The whole city had been subdued in the summer and now is a hustle and bustle of activity and people. The blinking yellow light of the school zone I was biking through caught me by surprise today. College students clutter central Austin, jay-walking and generally being obnoxious. I’m starting to feel very bitter-sweet about the whole experience. On one hand, I feel an incredible warmth for all the hopeful grade schoolers and on the other hand, I’m very annoyed and feel rather cold towards the party-hungry college kids. Does this mean I’m getting old?

I recently got a teaching/mentoring job at a High School. I will be heading an after-school film club at Travis High School. I’m really excited but a little nervous. I was a relatively good high schooler. I wanted to learn; I wanted to be there. Will my kids? What if they don’t like me? They don’t have to show up because it’s an after school program, so what if they don’t? Do I have what it takes to inspire and teach?! When I think about my favorite teachers, they were always the ones who didn’t take any shit from anyone – student, faculty or administration – they were the rebel teachers.

I worry about the state of education, especially in Texas. It seems like the state would rather spend money on roads and parks than the future leaders, our prosperity. I feel like every political topic can all come back to education. Hey you Tea Partier, You hate paying taxes – you don’t want your tax dollars to pay for some “lazy” person’s wellfare, Well maybe if we had a stronger school system then, we could possibly have a technological, medical, and industrial growth then we would have a stronger economy and we wouldn’t have as many people mooching off a social system that is made for dire conditions. That’s probably an over generalized example. How about: Hey you Pro-Lifer (that ultimately mixes up personal preference and the government’s control over your body), maybe instead of protests and bombing Planned Parenthood, maybe you could use that money to help educate young people on how to have safe sexual practice so that they don’t have to accidentlly get knocked up and get an abortion OR have the baby, not be able to provide for it, get on wellfare, work a bad minimum wage job, leave the child unsupervised, the kid grows up turns to drug and violence and ultimately ends up robbing YOU, Pro-Lifer with your VW Jetta! Wow I should stop. I’m getting worked up. BUT my point is, most problems start with kids and can be fixed with proper education.

I know my teaching job doesn’t start for another couple of weeks, and I am not a student anymore but I have an impulse to go get a new outfit and lay it out on my desk chair for Wednesday’s day at work, to organize my backpack and make sure my pencils are all sharpen.

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