Teachers and Students

I don’t normally discuss things that I see on the news.  It leads to arguments and ill feelings and drama.  BUT something has been stewing inside me for a couple of days.  I know I should look up the names and footnote my references but fuck that its a blog.  So here I go..

As you all know once upon a time I was a teacher and before that I was a student of course.  When I was a student I had a very hot teacher who was about six years older then me.  There was attraction and because we are both NOT stupid nothing happened.   Then when I was doing my mentor-ship I was about 22 I had a student that I was attracted to who was 18.  Once again because we were NOT stupid nothing happened.

I’m not sure how to say this without sounding creepy.  I understand these teachers attraction to their students.  Sometimes its just there.  BUT that’s when you need to evaluate your role in the student’s life.  You’re there to teach, guide and inspire.  What lessons are you teaching a student if they can’t trust you to do right by them?  Its hurts my soul that these kids did not have stronger teachers.  That they could not trust those individuals to protect their interests.

I’m no saint I ran into that same teacher at a  RUSH concert when I was twenty.  I bought him a beer and enjoyed his company.  But by then I was and here is the keyword TWENTY.  I thank him in my mind every time I think about him taking the time to say hey its not right and listening to me instead of walking away or embarrassing me.  And the 18 student of mine tracked me down later in life.  He became a writer and wanted me to read what he had written because he trusted me enough to know I would be truthful, but also helpful.  That same student is now a writer of some success and a teacher.

I think about how very different things would have been if either times people had made the other choices.  Yes there can be attraction between students and teachers but there need to be boundaries and trust.

Did anything I write make sense?  I’m not sure.  But when I watch teachers say they did it because they were lonely I want to say get a cat and leave your students alone.

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4 Responses to Teachers and Students

  1. Pingback: My sister speaks wisdom on the subject of teaching. « Stupid Evil Bastard

  2. momma says:

    Excellent post that needs no foot notes, names, or references just common sense and moral conciseness when deciding how to handle this situation. I agree with my son that you would have made an excellent teacher. That society judges on appearances and not on abilities is how much needed guidance and the leadership for our youth today is lost at a time when it is so badly needed.

  3. ***Dave says:

    Well said. And, yes, it’s all about not being stupid, and doing so by realizing that there’s more than just the moment and the desire, but a greater meaning in what we do and in how it will affect others — not just now, but in the future.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Back in High School, I had a rather open “thing” for one of my teachers, and she tolerated it as being simply good-natured or perhaps funny. I never would bring it into class, but when socializing out of class, I told her at least once and possibly more than once that were I her age, she’d have to beat me off with a stick… this in open amazement at her being still single while in her early 30s (I’d asked her if the Ms. stood for Mrs. or Miss, and she said neither, explaining the acronym as being equivalent to Mr., but then adding that she was, in fact, still single). I’m not going to say that she was the best-looking teacher at that school, but the truth is that I did love her. I remember the horror I felt the very first day in her class on the first day of my freshman year. It hit me so hard that I spent much of the walk home cursing God, because she, at that time, didn’t even know my name beyond it appearing on an attendance sheet, and beyond that, such a relationship was manifestly impossible.

    Logically, I assumed this to be a weird sort of a schoolboy crush, and I thought that after high school I’d forget all about her, but I didn’t. In fact, I stayed in touch, writing occasionally, and she’d write back, so after graduation, after obtaining my master degree, actually, I went to visit, and I somehow summoned the gumption to ask her out on a quasi-sort of date (where there would be other people who were barely acquaintances to me), and she, to my amazement, accepted. It was an act of desperation on my part, because I didn’t see how I could maintain the relationship without being able to see her every so often.

    To my surprise, a few days before this so-called date, she called and then came to my apartment with a bottle of champagne to pre-maturely congratulate me for something that I was in the midst of doing, if that makes any sense at all, and the short of it is that I completely choked. I mean, there was my opening… her in my doorway with a bottle of champagne, but I didn’t want her to know how I felt about her, although I’m quite sure now that she must have already known. I said thanks but didn’t welcome her in to stay and chat. I remember being of the distinct impression that anything I said or did would be totally inappropriate, and so my goal, as stupid as it sounds, was to say and do as little as possible. After all, with other people present, I’d be much less likely to confess to her my heart, as it were. So, obviously, she left, and if she didn’t know before that something was distinctly odd with me, she definitely knew it then, and so a few days later, just minutes before this date that we’d made, she called to say that she wasn’t going. I asked what was up, and she said she didn’t feel like it. Without hesitation, I told her to call if she should change her mind, and she said okay, and then we said goodbye, and we haven’t spoken or written since.

    It’s now been around eighteen years. I’m now older than she was when last we spoke, and as I look back on it, I’m torn… torn between hurt and shame… shame at my pathetic performance on champagne-night. I should have opened that bottle there and then, rather than waiting for a time, as she’d suggested, and more to the point, I should have confessed that when I said, so many years previously, that she’d have to beat me off with a stick, I was serious. I should have acknowledged my feelings, confessed them, without the foolish hope of any sort of emotional quid pro quo. But, I somehow thought that if I did that, I’d never get to see her again, when in fact doing just the opposite resulted in the realization of that very outcome. I didn’t do as my heart urged, and as a result, she’s gone, probably married, as am I. Such cowardice… how could I possibly ever forgive myself? And as for the hurt… I’ve never been able to shake the feeling of having been thrown away by the woman who I loved most.

    When we’re young, our hearts are wide open. That is to say, we can love fully and completely, even through we may be hesitant to jump over that ledge. But once we experience any sort of feeling of betrayal from the person we love, whether they are really doing anything wrong or not, we are never again so foolish and never again so open.

    Our heart turns into this shriveled thing, and it goes quiet, and slowly we are reborn into someone else. If all goes well, we become someone who is changed only to the degree necessary not to make a future mistake, someone who can love again if only we might find the right person.

    As for myself, all I can say is that despite having had long-term relationships since, including a marriage which is going reasonably well after almost a decade, I still look back; every single day, I still remember. And I know it’s not healthy, but I’ve never really been able to stop loving her. In a sense, I was right to curse God that first day, particularly in light of how my feelings have persisted.

    My advice for high school teachers is that if you find yourself being asked out by a former student, and you want to say no, either tell them the real reason or just say that if you were younger or they older, then your answer might (or would) be yes, but given the age-difference, you don’t see it being a good idea. That, despite being a rejection, is also a sort of acceptance, because the part about what you would do if you were their age and they yours is something they will hang on to, something that will ultimately give them peace.

    It’s not about being smart. It’s about kindness and lowering yourself to speak with them as though they and you were on the same level, even though in many different ways you’re obviously not. And that’s nobody’s fault. It just is. Just like love. It just is.

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