Intrepid Girl Reporter

Tuesday, 6/24: for the widows in Paradise
June 24, 2008, 12:16 pm
Filed under: life progress, rants, skool, students, teaching, the future

Despite my obvious affection for the New York Times, it’s articles like this one that make me want to knee it in its elitist groin.

It must be difficult, of course, to choose between a lucrative job in the private sector and an honorable job that allows one to “give back” in the public sphere. I’m certainly glad I’m not faced with that decision. One of the many perks of not being able to obtain ANY JOB AT ALL.

I’m not going to lie: I want to go to an Ivy grad school or, if not, at least one of the best in my field. That is, however, for graduate school in a specialized discipline. I’m not going to pretend that I don’t resent the way major news outlets (such as the Times) only focus on these most prestigious colleges, the ones that cut out the middle class by refusing to offer merit-based aid, and assume that they must be home to the best and the brightest. I once sat across from a Harvard student who didn’t know where the state of Kansas was. Note to Harvard: I do. Believe it or not, there are a lot of other schools out there that are not Ivies that turn out perfectly functional individuals. i’m also more than a little turned off by the way the article makes it sound like these public sector jobs should just be totally honored that these fancy fancy students might deign to give their expertise.*

That having been said, I do want to throttle My Own School pretty often. We were recently featured by Consumers Digest as the #1 liberal-arts value in America. We were also featured in Delta Sky magazine. Both stories made the front page of our website. Note to My School: Until you stop acting like it’s a big honor to be featured in DELTA SKY, we’re never going to leave the 40s in the rankings.

Nonetheless, I think I might try to apply to some of these companies too. I’ve been trying to work in the public sector, and no one wants to give me a low-paying job doing difficult and emotionally draining work, so I might as well start looking at jobs that would actually allow me to pay my own rent.

Tried to teach a pop-song lesson today, three different ways, and none of them worked, because my students are ungrateful little hoodlums. This state of affairs wasn’t helped by the young co-teacher, who switched from her customary usage of “maybe it would be a better idea if” to “I want you to,” which semantically means pretty much the same thing but totally makes it sound like it’s my duty to bend to my co-teachers’ whims. I realize that this is probably just a translation issue, but it didn’t make me feel any better. I played different classes Kanye, Sufjan Stevens, Enrique Iglesias and Stevie Wonder, and I was so frustrated at my classes’ refusal to even engage – and these are students I like! – that by the end of the last one, which may actually have been the worst, I was barely speaking to anyone. They shouted “I love you” out the window, but it was too late. Tomorrow’s classes get a lesson on the future tense instead.

We did have our final goodbye party at the 공부방 (after-school program) today, though, and they gave us each a beautiful tea set. I don’t even know how to describe how badly I want these kids to succeed.


*I have a real problem with the low pay offered by most jobs in the public sector, including (and especially) those sponsored by the government. The wrong messages this sends are almost too numerous to mention: that these jobs lack the same prestige as better-paying ones in the private sphere, that working with and for others should be some kind of sacrifice, that there’s something inherently noble about working with others to better the world. Volunteering isn’t about “helping”; it’s about working to make a better life for all of us, and it comes with as many benefits (if not more) than private jobs. Everyone should be able to find something they like, in my view, that also happens to benefit someone besides themselves, but continuing to perpetuate this idea that working with others must require a little bit of unpleasantness that we have to suck up is totally detrimental to any efforts to get others involved. It also makes it way more difficult for people without independent means to take up jobs such as these. I realize that most public-sector jobs don’t have a lot of money, so I’m mostly referring to government-subsidized jobs (likte teaching and AmeriCorps) here, but it also seems to me that there is an inherent assumed correlation in American society with social-sector jobs and low pay.

And, I mean, if I were poor and learned that these AmeriCorps volunteers were being put on food stamps so they could “empathize” with me, I would be incensed. No one WANTS to be on food stamps, and I find it a little bit insulting to people who actually have to be on them that, should I join AmeriCorps, I’ll be expected to do it too, like poverty is some sort of game.