Jesse Hamm (sirspamdalot) wrote,
Jesse Hamm

Memory Lane

Recently I went through a pile of old papers I found after my mom died. It was stuff that she'd kept from my childhood, including report cards and drawings of mine, and her collection of Jesse Hamm minicomics, which I'd given her over the years and finally had to reclaim (proving vividly that we never own comics; we only borrow them).

What drew most of my interest were the comments my teachers had written on my papers and report cards. Though cloaked in teacherly euphemisms, the problems they had with me were clear, and I was surprised at the similarity between my childhood struggles and those I face as an adult.

One teacher remarks that I had "much information to add to our class discussions ... but I would like to see him working at a faster pace." (And here I am posting on LiveJournal instead of drawing comics....) Another complains that my "creativity and originality sometimes get in the way of following directions." (Memories of being fired from my last 9-to-5 float into view.) Then there's a 'C' paper which the teacher "would have given an 'F' if I could find the book you plagiarized." (Subsequently changed to an 'A' after I threatened to drag him and his lack of evidence before the principal.) And, on a report about a book of my choosing, an English teacher complains at my having panned the book: "So why did you read it?" (I dimly remember explaining to her in person that I could not have known whether I'd like the book until reading it, and her perplexing reply that I should have read a book that I liked.) One of my 6th grade teachers used the entire 'comments' section of my report card to rebut a letter I had apparently written her in which I criticized her teaching. She ends by recommending that I seek therapy. (The classic "I pity you" rebuttal, which has since done so well on the mess'board circuit.)

My 4th grade teacher's polite complaints on my report cards call to mind her more candid response on a parent/teacher night, when my mom asked her how I was doing. I remember her throwing up her hands, exclaiming,"He's HOPELESS!" in front of numerous parents and students, and storming away. With the paperwork in front of me now, I see that I made the honor roll repeatedly that year, and it appears that my lowest grade in any subject was a C+. Evidently that fall from grace was enough to drive her mad.

In fact, looking at my school days from the objective standpoint of Two Decades Later, and with paper records to verify my memories, a truth emerges more clearly than ever before:

My teachers were small-minded jerks.

Oh, I'd have said as much when I was still in their classes and under their heels -- and I probably did -- but back then it would have been with some doubt, some suspicion that I was biased, and that I wasn't being fair to them. But it's clear to me now that I did indeed spend much of my childhood at the feet of tyrants and morons.

And given that school exists to prepare you for adult life, I suppose that's exactly how it should have been.
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