Are Teachers Human?



Something strange happened to me when I hit the high school years. Maybe it happened to you, too.

When I was a little girl, I loved school. I mean, I LOVED school. By age 3, I was playing school at home. I’d get out my chalk board, crayons, paper, and books, and pretend I was a big girl going off to school with my older sister. My town didn’t have kindergarten (tells you how old I am – though, yes, kindergarten had been invented!) And my birthday was such that I missed the cut off date for first grade by a month. By the time I finally arrived at first grade, I was almost 7 and had been reading for years.

My teacher was in heaven listening to me read. She sent me up to the principal with my book that was clearly 5th grade level or higher. I was a bit scared to walk into her office, but I read to her with all the passion that I hold for reading to this day. After I was done, the principal hugged me! This is the woman that I had been told put red hot peppers on kids’ tongues if they’d been bad.

Over the early years, I experienced good and not so great teachers, interesting subjects and not. But I managed to hold onto my positive thoughts about school through 8th grade.

So what makes a straight A student from grades 1 through 8 turn into a teenager who hates school? That’s a mystery that is at the core of my novel PERSEPHONE IN HELL.

“The teachers were always catching Glory in a day dream or staring out the classroom window. Mrs. Hansen, her history teacher, seemed to make a game of writing up detention slips. I suppose it makes my sadistic, twisted, inhuman teacher happy. Today, Mrs. Hansen was drilling the class on the succession of English monarchs. Even though everyone knows that memorizing lists of long dead kings is an exercise that could make even the best student want to vomit. Worse even than studying the names and dates of battles and wars. Well, maybe it’s a tie between the two for deadliest.”

Was it the content of the class, or the teacher teaching it that made high school so fatally boring? Were my teachers really human? Did they have first names, families, lives outside the classroom? I thought of them as inhuman, or less than human, or simply so uninteresting that I didn’t think of them at all. Was it true, or was it me? Perhaps I had just turned some corner in life, never to look back. For the sake of consistency, ignoring that long ago hug that acknowledged me as a special person, perhaps a cut above the average, a person of note. Forgetting that I was a queen in my own right.

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