Job Title: Harbinger of Doom

Pardon me while I drag out my soapbox. Just need a little bit of a vent for a while. I don't know if it's the winter doldrums. I don't know if it's just the prospect of watching another drawn out circus in the Illinois state legislature. I don't know if it's just the mid-school year slump. Or a combination of all three, but I'm feeling kind of bummed out lately. And I don't know about you, but I just can't write when I'm bummed out. Well, can't write anything good.

I joke sometimes that I'm going to have "Harbinger of Doom" put next to Union President on my business cards. If I had Union Pres business cards, that is. Illinois is worse than a circus with their public sector employees lately and I'm getting weary. Which is something I think that they're hoping for. If we get spntired enough, we'll stop fighting and just let them do what they want. I'm almost there, which is something for those of you who know me. I'm usually pretty feisty.

I'm just getting so tired. I'm tired of the relentless calls to arms we've been getting for over three years on the pension crisis. I'm tired of being bad-mouthed in the press and cast as a union thug in public eyes. I mean, seriously, do I look like a union thug? If so, then union thugs have fallen a long way since the Hoffa years. I'm weary of being told I'm the reason the state is broke--it has nothing to do with broken politico promises and sometimes outright theft of pension funds. I'm tired of being told I'm an overpaid babysitter who doesn't deserve to earn a living wage. On a daily basis I'm part performer, part magician, referee, cheerleader, jailer, counselor and an actual expert on my subject area. It's a little like walking on a tightrope juggling flaming balls while the crocodiles circle below and someone's sawing on the rope. Yeah. Pretty much like that.

Teaching's changed a lot on the years I've been in the classroom. I was actually told that "in this era of high stakes testing we really don't have a lot of time for student expression." I used to have my kids write a story--start to finish and I told them about publishing as well. Had a few who received their first rejection letters in 8th grade. It was a bit of a rush for them. Of course, they were all hoping for checks, but it was a real life learning experience. I used to teach The Lords of the Flies as part Giligan's Island, part Survivor part roleplaying game. We loved it and they all remembered that book. We'd run around the room with Romeo and Juliet and plastic swords, make masquerade masks for "The Masque of the Red Death" and put the Big Bad Wolf on trial for stalking and attempted murder. I miss that and I think the kids do too.


  1. Sadly, wonderful inspired teaching like yours isn't wanted, it seems - conformism and lowest common denominator appeal are considered more important. Drones = good. Brave New World is getting quite close...(Thankfully, our grandson here in Spain isn't experiencing any of this - maybe Spain hasn't fallen into that trap yet.)


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