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Two Poems on Teaching

Teaching World History II

The voice weaves in
through my open doorway
from the classroom down the hall.

Like talking wind,
or seeking vines,
or blackberry canes with thorns.

He's a midway barker,
a sword swallower,
a fairground carnival ride.

Yesterday, I saw him juggle
One orange, partly eaten
A paper-clip, and
a single battered copy of
Glencoe's World History II.

Child Left Behind

You ain't got nothing to teach
me. No, I don't got to sit down.

I hate this class. I hate this school.
Why can't I go to the lav now?
I ain't got nothing to learn.

All I was doing was looking.
What? I wasn't doing no
thing. That wasn't fair. It wasn't me.
He did it first. That wasn't mine.

Why are you just such a bee--
All I was doing was laughing.
No, I don't got to sit down.

You ain't got nothing to teach me.
I ain't got nothing to learn.

Won't let you have nothing
to teach

Don't wanta have nothing

to learn.



Anonymous said…
I hope with all my heart that the second poem is not what you're facing everyday.
Hi, David!


I'm afraid it's what almost every teacher in America is facing every day... Though it's a minority of kids, I don't think any teacher, anywhere, gets a day without at least a little of that attitude directed our way.

It is painful. And I really do see my response to the particular class and students who inspired that poem as... well, not to sound too grandiose or anything, but staying in "the zone" with those kids, and continuing to set limits, work to connect, and not to be provoked to verbal violence as my peace testimony.

I also think it makes the work done my my colleague, the inspiration for "Teaching History I" all the more amazing. The good teachers among us are so good...
Anonymous said…
Hi, I am a teacher and I shared this poem with my colleagues.

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