16 Days of American Schooling

1. This syllabus is now your God. Don’t act like you weren’t told. Everything is here in black and white. My expectations are clear. You will sign this. Your parents will sign this. You see my late policy. You see our classroom norms. Don’t act like you don’t know, because now you know.

2. I will make my PowerPoints available to you each evening, so you can study from them and absorb all this knowledge like a sponge. You will become a sponge this year. You will be so heavy and full with knowledge that you will forget by July 4th weekend, if not sooner.

3. I am the teacher. You are the student. If you are ready, I will appear. If you are not ready, I will be marking your paper with red pen so it seems that your paragraphs are bleeding out into the margins. I will puncture the arteries and veins of your language until the pool of red ink drowns out your voice, as you choke and gurgle on the grammar that you never learned because you had your own.

4. Never say “I think” or “I believe” or “I feel like.” Just eliminate those phrases and leave the ghost of what’s left. No one cares what you think. Remain objective. Take yourself out of the paper as much as possible, but still remain. Write an argumentative essay without your opinion.

5. We don’t speak like that in this school. Pull up your pants. Take off your hat or at least turn it forwards. Have some integrity. Speak English in this room. Speak a different variation of English. Yours is too versatile.

6. You might get away with that at home, but not here. Don’t even think about treating my room like your home. Would you put your feet on the furniture at home? Would your mother put up with that? I don’t know what goes on in this community after 3:00 PM because I drive to the freeway and go straight home.

7. We aren’t going to talk about race, class, gender or privilege in this class. We are all the same. Equality, people. Ever heard of it? Just look – we have a Black president. This is post-racial America, so stop complaining. Be grateful. If you don’t love this country, leave it. Because if you really love it enough, why would you take a close hard look at what needs to be changed?

8. When I raise my hand like this, that means silence. I will count down from 3 – 2 – 1. You will be quiet. We are going to learn respect if it’s the last thing we do.

9. You think you can act like that in the real world? If you talk like that on an interview, you’ll never get the job. I’m trying to prepare you for the real world. You’ll be thanking me in a few years.

10. Silence. Let it rest on your tongue. Swallow it. Digest it. Let the absence of sound marinate in your gut until your throat burns with violence.

11. Don’t even think about bringing that hip hop into my classroom. This is school. This is academic. This isn’t the streets. Tuck in your shirt.

12. I don’t even know why I bother.

13. You call this a thesis? Get this out of my face and come back when it’s provable and debatable. This isn’t workable. Weren’t you paying attention last week?

14. Think of this school as a factory. I’m the CEO. The captain. The foreman. You are the worker. Scratch that. You are the product. We are going to produce greatness. You will be sorted and boxed and shipped to any university of your choosing, unless a legacy student gets in over you because their father donated a building.

15. Yes, why don’t you “keep it real” and meet me in detention at 3:00. You can write on the board, “I will speak proper English” over and over again until you forget the rules and parameters of your identity.

16. No questions at this time. I have no answers.

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One comment

  1. Hi. I nominated you for a Shine On Award. All the details are on my Shine On Award blog post.

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