Lifelong learning / Portraits from the edge

A classroom with five rows of desks, the kind that have black metal seats attached. Two people hang out in the back of the room, next to some bookshelves, posters and a poster of Abe Lincoln.
Screenshot: YouTube

Today: Myriam Gurba, founding editor of Tasteful Rude, and author of Creep (2023) and Mean (2017); and Mark Yarm, author of Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History of Grunge and contributor to Long Lead's Depth Perception.

Issue No. 72

One of the Good Ones
Myriam Gurba

“I’m Only One Person, But By God, I’ve Got a Camera
Mark Yarm

One of the Good Ones

by Myriam Gurba

To be an effective high school teacher, one must develop patience. Vexatious students can be powerful mentors in this regard. They’ll remind you that kids are kids, and that a surefire way for a teacher to lose authority is for her to wage war against the class clown.

Loud, smart, and desperate for attention, Sof was a junior who taught me patience and restraint. As a student in my U.S. history class, they sometimes interrupted instruction by blurting out witticisms and jokes. While their commentary was entertaining, it was often inappropriate. I regularly struggled not to laugh. Sof has since apologized for being disruptive, and they were especially embarrassed about the time they derailed a historical reenactment. Sof had been assigned the part of Neville Chamberlain, but much to everyone’s surprise, they went off-script, yelling, “I’m Rick James, bitch!” It was the aughts, we were studying isolationism, and the class erupted in laughter. Kids recognized the dialogue from a popular Chappelle’s Show skit, one that my little brother is also a fan of. Perhaps having Sof as my student was a karmic comeuppance. When I was a teen, I, too, lived to torture my U.S. history teacher.

Sorry, Father Ed.

I shouldn’t have tossed that rubber cockroach at you.

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