Here is some art that I have been working on. This one is Bobcat Pass in NM.
This one is from Ocate, NM.
Back in my public school teaching days, I learned that I could teach the parts of speech or the "Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner," but when it came to making a difference in a child's life, that was not so easily done. What a kid learns at home way outweighs anything I could teach. And truthfully maybe it was not my job to teach life lessons. Maybe I should have stuck to grammar and lit, but it is difficult not to try and help, and that is what I was doing - trying to teach kids to get along in life, manners, etc. One time, a student used some foul language while talking to me. He was not being rude, just talking. Casually, I said, "You aren't suppose to use that sort of language to me." In all innocence, he replied, "Why not?" I said, "Well, I'm your teacher and out of respect, you don't use bad words when talking to me. You would not use those words with your mother, would you?" He was truly dumbfounded and went on to say that he did use that sort of language with his mother and she used it with him. That was a "life lesson" for me.
I can think of a couple of times when a student came to me and told me that what I had said (taught) had really made a difference - made them think differently. And those students actually said thank you. Those moments made teaching worthwhile.
All teaching is worthwhile. Just being with young people is worthwhile. Sometimes, though, it is like hitting your head on the wall over and over to no avail.
Earlier this week I taught a watercolor class for teens through the Chisholm Trail Arts Council. It was sort of a summer camp thing. The teens I had were on the young side. I would say most were 13 year olds with a few 14 to 15 year olds. The CTAC director had said she did not think the teen class would make and that I would probably only have a few kids. Although I asked her to give me an exact number so I could plan, the director got busy and forgot to tell me there would be 16 kids. Dang! I had prepared for maybe seven kids. So I plunged in and did my best. Most of these kids were not artists, but just kids whose parents wanted them to be busy. Most of these kids were immature. So I had to let my expectations go and just have fun with them. And we did have fun, I think. I had forgotten how kids could be.
Then yesterday the Tutoree came over. We had lunch together, and she caught me up on what was going on in her life. She told me about some problems in her life, and I offered her some wisdom on her problems. My wisdom was not to her liking. We had a pretty good row about it, which is not really that unusual with the Tutoree. We've had lots of rows. What was unusual was her anger over something so simple. Of course, once she was mad, she was not hearing anything more. She pretty much told me that she did not have to do what I said. True, but she should consider what I said. She said no to that too. It all made me feel like the last three years of teaching her, gaining her confidence, being her friend, and trying to make a difference in her life were gone - disappeared into thin air. I was reminded that even when you pour yourself into a child, you may not do any good. Then again, sometimes results are not evident until years later. It does not stop me from saying what needs to be said or doing what needs to be done.