Monday, November 28, 2005

"I break down the door with the renegade flow"

It feels so wierd to be one of the faculty at school. One of Them. Workin' for The Man. Chillin' in the teacher's lounge. Enforcing The Rules. I was one of those annoying kids who could get straight As without trying, and I hated school. All of it, right through to college (though the last two years were pretty cool, actually). Being herded around hour after hour, learning things I didn't care about from clueless teachers, surrounded by kids I hated or had nothing in common with, not to mention the food. I spent most of it providing the answers to homework and tests in exchange for social tolerance. My two months (Jesus Christ on toast! Two months!!) at this job, however, has taught me two things: teachers ought to be paid million dollar salaries; and even if they were, I still wouldn't want to be one.
I don't think I'm a sucky teacher; god knows I try my damnedest, I know what it's like to have a crappy foreign language professor. I like the kids well enough, but disciplining them is a challenge, because I don't have as much authority as an actual professor. The youngest ones, 11-12 years old, are a treat, because they're so eager and enthusiastic (and they're totally overawed by the idea of une vrai américaine!). The older ones are 13 to 14 and vary a lot; some of them are decent, but most of them have reached the age where they're just too cool for school. It's so bizarre, standing in front of them trying to cram some correct English in their heads, and sometimes I can't blame them for being bored, given the materials I have to use. I watch them working on an excercise and I know, if I were their classmate, which ones I would have hated, which ones would have ignored me (and vice versa), which ones would have bullied me, and which ones I would have eaten lunch with. It makes me feel old, and I'm too young to feel old!
Anyway, today I finally got to do something I wanted, after weeks of Thanksgiving excercises, repeating that charming fairy tale about Pilgrims and Indians living happily ever after, I decided to create some activities around Northern State's song "A Thousand Words". Every schoolkid should have their daily dose of subversive feminist hip hop, in my opinion. I would have loved to play Meshell Ndegeocello or Lauryn Hill or Alix Olsen for them, but Northern State is easier to understand (they're old school, not rapping at a million miles an hour) while still being pretty cool, musically.
Every time I discussed American culture in my introductory classes, students would inevitably ask if I liked either 50 Cent, Eminem, or Tupac. That's all they know of American popular music at the moment. So I've been looking forward to introducing them to female rappers who aren't rail thin and who have all their clothes on and who have a political edge to their music. "A Thousand Words" is a fun song, a mix of silliness ("Chekhov wrote The Seagull, and Snoopy is a beagle") and politics, but without being too obscure for them (or getting me into trouble) .
I'm a vegetarian, humanitarian, imaginarian, not a Libertarian
The country's getting ugly and there's more in store
But don't blame me 'cause I voted for Gore
Keep choice legal, your wardrobe legal

I was a little concerned about the "keep choice legal" part; if they asked me about it, how much could I say? I wouldn't even think about playing this song in the States, because some student and their mommy would have a coronary over indoctrinating liberal propaganda etc. I wasn't sure if I could get away with it in France, but luckily no one asked about it. I feel properly rebellious, all the same. Good radical feminist! (::pats self on back::) Open up those minds! Expand those horizons! I may be in The System, but I'm not of it. (Now if only I could figure out a clever response every time they ask me if I have a boyfriend).
It's a short-lived triumph, however. Tomorrow I have to start teaching Christmas carols to the students attending this oh-so-secular French school. Americans aren't the only ones who selectively apply "separation of church and state".


At 5:27 PM, Anonymous Kevin said...

You may have already said, but why can't you just tell your students that you are queer?

At 1:03 AM, Blogger Andygrrl said...

Well, it's not exactly like saying "Oh by the way I'm dyslexic". I wouldn't feel comfortable coming out to junior high kids in the States, for one thing, so in a foreign country--even France--I'm playing it safe. It's annoying and frustrating sometimes, but I'm used to it. Besides, identity politics in France are very different than in the States; they have a kind of obsession with a unified national identity. You are French first and foremost; and any other part of your identity is private. You wouldn't really have someone calling themselves French-Algerian the way you can have an African-American or a Mexican-American. My nationality gives me enough trouble as it is, anyway. One of my teachers told me a few of her students' parents weren't happy with the idea of an American assistant, so I doubt they'd be thrilled with a man-hating lesbo either.
So, yeah, at the moment I just respond "No, I don't have a boyfriend" and move on.

At 3:36 PM, Anonymous Kevin said...

Thanks, Anne. That was educational.

And it made me notice blogger's comment field: "Choose an identity". :)

At 7:00 AM, Blogger Andygrrl said...

LOL, well that's what they pay me the big bucks for, educatin'! I get a kick out of that blogger thing too; hm, who do I want to be today?


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