On Monday, I gave the students in my Humanities class time for a free write. One or two groaned, but most cheered. I teach the gifted and they are always complaining that they never get to write their own stuff.
I wandered the room, helping a few kids get started then went to sit and write myself. I wanted to try writing a Villanelle poem. They appear simple but are actually quite tricky. I got lost in what I was doing, but the kids were writing away quietly. I had a writing time frame in mind and as the deadline approached, I put my writing away and wandered the room. There was lots of what you’d expect from gifted 6th graders.
And then there was THAT ONE.
He’d spent the whole time writing, but it was what he wrote that caught my eye. The title at the top of his page was Why I Hate Humanities. Gut punch. I tried to read more, but couldn’t. Fortunately, as a veteran teacher, I have developed some stealthy spy skills. While the kids were working on their Mesopotamia group project, I snuck over to his seat and took a peek. His biggest complaint was that Humanities was 2 hours long and that it was “even more boring than Math”. He also did not enjoy the group project we were working on. Okay. Nothing about me personally. He’d gone on to write a second personal essay entitled Why I Hate Enrichment. Enrichment is a required reading class for everyone and part of the elective cycle. I didn’t get a chance to read that one, but I saw the student adding to that page later on. Apparently he hates it more than my class because he was onto a second page. Ouch.
I didn’t take it personally. Like most teachers, I work hard, teach my heart out, and strive to become better at my profession. I know a lot of kids love my class, but I am not so naive that I think they all do. So, I will keep on doing what I’m doing and keep on learning. I don’t suppose I will ever see Why I Love Humanities in that boy’s writer’s notebook, but I will teach as though I might.