Quitting The Students

Quitting is not the same as Quitting. ” My dad told me that my junior of college, right before I decided to separate myself from this organization at my school. “People quit things all the time Laquia, whether you like it or not you are replaceable.

The more I thought about it the more I agreed with him. People do quit things all the time.People quit teams, they quit jobs, companies quit employees and lay them off, people quit relationships…people literally quit things everyday.

Somehow, teachers are supposed to be different. Teacher’s aren’t supposed to quit students. Above all, they are supposed to be the ones that remain strong and steadfast. They are supposed to be the people that believe in the students the most, that show them a better way, the people that reach them. But…I am not a teacher…

Tuesday was a long day, but it became even longer once it was time to teach my last class of the day, 8th B. In general, 8th grade is a difficult age. When I was in 8th grade, I was bored in every class except English and Health. English I loved and Health was the one class that seemed somewhat useful. However, this class isn’t interested in anything my partner and I have to say. NOT EVER. On this particular day, we were discussing life goals. We wanted the students to begin thinking about their futures and the things they wanted out of life, something that is not discussed within Moldovan schools.

I watched my partner begin the lecture in spite of the chaotic classroom. How was it chaotic you might ask:

  1. Students refused to respond to questions, even when she called upon them they said “I don’t know.”
  2. Students would get up and hit each other and sit back down, only to do the same thing 3 minutes later.
  3. Paper airplanes were being thrown across the classroom. To make matters worse, they thought it was HILARIOUS when we confiscated them.
  4. ENDLESS CHATTER. The students didn’t even attempt to be respectful. They talked after we asked them not too, they talked after being yelled at. Ignoring them was to no avail because it made it impossible to think!

Thus, the classroom was chaotic.

My partner is really good about pretending like everything is normal and that we aren’t being made fools of, but me…not so much. When it was my turn to teach, the students seemed to get noisier. Instead of pushing through like my partner, I became enraged. I walked over to the group of boys who refused to stop talking and asked them if one of them wanted to teach? Of course, they said ‘no’. Before I realized what I was doing, I shouted at them “WHO WANT’S TO BE THE TEACHER? COME IN FRONT OF THE CLASS!” I absorbed their stunned faces and shouted “THEN SHUT UP!”

For five seconds, the class went silent. But then snickers filled the room from behind me and that’s when I realized that I didn’t have to be there, after all, I’m volunteering. At that moment, I said quietly (in english) “Fuck This” and then I left the building.

Here I am spending two years of my life trying to educate them on topics they would otherwise know NOTHING about, and they don’t care. It doesn’t matter what activities we do, what the topic is, they simply don’t care. And then I realize, it’s not their fault. The system is a mess. Education is not a strong value. People aren’t taught to empower themselves, change what they don’t like, or pull themselves up by the boot straps. They aren’t taught to critically think, or apply what they learn to their own life.  Health is an OPTIONAL course, and I am lead to believe that if it weren’t for PCV’s there wouldn’t be very many health programs within Moldovan schools.

After sitting and thinking, my partner calls me up and says we should ask the students if they WANT to continue with Health Education. I’m thinking…this is a joke right? Of course they don’t WANT Health Education. None of them do.

So we had a meeting. It was just us and 8th B. We gave them a choice…they didn’t make one. We told their diriginte (homeroom teacher) to talk to them about it, 3 days later they still hadn’t made a choice.

So today…we made a choice. I’m no longer teaching 8th B Health Education. Instead, I’m teaching 8th D. They are supposed to be more well-behaved class from “better families.”  To be honest, it doesn’t matter.

I learned something this week. I am a volunteer. I’m only here for 2 years. I can make this experience what I want it to be, and I don’t have to stand up in front of a class and be disrespected.

So I quit 8th B, because they don’t care and neither do I.

The good thing is that now other students will get this opportunity, which I’m looking forward to.

 

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12 Comments

Filed under Peace Corps

12 responses to “Quitting The Students

  1. M. Scho

    What you are doing there is amazing and I am so proud of you. Only give your knowledge to those who want it. One day, maybe, those kids in 8th B will look back and wish they had made a decision.

    Keep up your hard work and hopefully things will go much, much batter with 8th D.

    I love you, miss you, and I am SO proud of everything you are doing!

  2. Sheree

    After reading this the first time around, I was kind of disapointed in you; I kind of felt like you had given up on your kids and you should have tried to do more to get those kids interested in the material. But then I really thought about it some more and I realized that,
    Laquia, you ALWAYS take a stand and this time is no different. Engaging people (young, old, Moldovan, or American) is difficult, period. I can only imagine your frustration. But I agree with M.Scho in sharing your talents with those who want it.

    You “quitting” these students shows that you joined the Peace Corps to actually make change and have an impact. In this case, it’s clear that these kids were frustrating your purpose. Instead of pushing through the class as your fellow teacher did, you chose the option to impact change…That’s actually more respectable than trudging through the class period knowing you weren’t making a difference.

    One of the reasons you were chosen to be in the Peace Corps is because you are valuable and you have valuable skills and talents and ideas to offer that others need. What a waste it would be to be in Moldova for two years and not have shared those things! I’m proud of you for standing up and making the choice to be of impact to a hopefully more deserving group of students.

    (I hope I didn’t offend you by the first couple of sentences, I know how hard and smart of a worker you are :))

    -Sheree

    • Laquia

      Sheree, I AM NOT AT ALL OFFENDED by your first few lines. I asked myself if I was giving up before making the final decision. However, when I compare this particular class to all of the other 7 classes that I teach, there is a distinct difference and nonchalance towards education that is far beyond anything that I can do. If there is anything I hate, it is admitting defeat. However, I’ve acknowledged that with this experience time is of the essence. I have to do as much as I can within the given time frame, which motivates me to critically assess everything that I am doing to ensure it is productive.

      Thank you so much for all of your support! Thanks for sharing your opinion.

      LB

  3. X. Burt

    Don’t let fools control you. If you can deal with me and Mikala for 22 years (I think thats how old you are muahahah) Then you can deal with some bad (explicit language) students. Handle your business and do your part. Oh and if you have a library that has American books I highly suggest you read “Three Cups of Tea” That dude is a role model and it will change your life. This is coming from me the most nonchalant dude on earth.

  4. Alex

    Don’t feel bad about the quitting- sometimes is is the right thing to do with a group of students. I quit teaching three of my classes for a while. Instead, I sat in the back of the classroom and worked on other things. After several weeks of this, the students began asking when I was coming back to teach them. I asked if they wanted me to, since the last time I’d been teaching they had been really disrespectful.
    And then the apologies began.
    I ended up returning to teaching them…with different results. You can’t end all the horsing around, but it definitely went down about 95%.

  5. Chuck

    I was in Moldova with the Peace Corps for a very brief time about a year and a half ago. That’s why I check the PC blogs every now and then but I never posted anything until now. Mainly I wanted to say that I don’t think you quit anything. You tried to do something that is very difficult. And no one, not even you, knows what might happen in the future. The students of 8thB may never remember anything about health but one day they may recall a teacher from America that first showed them a different way. One day it may occur to some of them what you gave up and how far you were from home. You may have been the first person ever that expected them to be respectful and thoughtful and not just accept their bad behavior because it was too much trouble not to. You may have made the first dent and even if it was small someone needed to try. I know this all may sound trite but I have no doubt you’re making a difference. All of your students, from Tatianna to 8thB are lucky to have you. And those of us back in the States are lucky that someone like you is willing to give two years of their life to the Peace Corps! So thank you and keep up the good work!
    By the way, you’re a great writer too!

    • Thank you so much for your encouragement Chuck! It’s very easy to lose sight of the purpose of this journey, and it is helpful to have others remind me that by being here, I am doing SOMETHING. Although it is easy to get discouraged because the problem is so much bigger than myself. There is an entire system at fault for the attitude of these students. I can only do what I can do, and sometimes accepting that is the hardest part.

      I’d be very interested in learning more about your PC Moldova experience if possible. Thanks for commenting on my blog!

      • Chuck

        I was in the Ag program but I didn’t even get out of PST. I wasn’t real happy in Moldova then there was a family illness and I had to leave. Well, I left earlier than I needed to but I was going to have to go sooner or later. I would have liked to think that I would have stayed if I could have but the truth is I don’t know. There were a lot of things I liked about my month in Moldova. My host family was great; I’ve stayed in touch with my host sister and made a lot of good friends.

        Hang in there, I’ll be checking your blog every now and then, I enjoy it very much!

  6. Callie

    Have you seen the movie To Sir, With Love? I watched it tonight and I think you might be able to relate to the teacher in many ways. His response to frustrating students? Throwing out the books and asking them what they want to talk about. Asking them what they think is interesting for topics and discussion and aiding in responses. Treating them like adults, addressing one another as Sir and Miss, showing them manners and holding them to certain adult expectations. You might REALLY like it 🙂

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