Taylor Mali was at a dinner party.
Another dinner guest said, “The problem with teachers is, ‘What’s a kid going to learn in life from someone who decides his best option in life is to become a teacher? Those who CAN, DO; and those who CAN’T, TEACH.”
I bite my tongue, instead of his, and resist the urge to remind the other dinner guest that it’s also true what they say about lawyers….because, we’re eating, after all, and this is polite conversation.
“I mean, you’re a teacher, Taylor. Be honest….what do you make?”
I wish he hadn’t done that. You see, I have a policy about honesty, which is if you ask for it, then I have to let you have it.
“You want to know what I make??? I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could! I can make a C+ feel like a Congressional Medal of Honor, and I can make an A- feel like a slap in the face! How dare you waste my time with anything less than your very best! You want to know what I MAKE??? I make kids sit through 40 minutes of Study Hall in ABSOLUTE SILENCE. ‘You cannot work in groups. No, you can’t ask a question. So put your hand down. Why won’t I let you go to the bathroom? Because you’re BORED, and you don’t really have to go!’ You want to know what I MAKE??? I make parents tremble in FEAR when I call home at around dinner time, ‘This is Mr. Mali….I hope I haven’t called at a bad time….I just wanted to talk to you about something that your son did today…He said (to another kid), ‘Leave the kid alone! I still cry sometimes, don’t you?’ I said (to the parent), ‘It was the noblest act of courage that I have ever seen!’ I make parents see their children for who they ARE, and who they CAN BE! You want to know what I MAKE??? I make kids QUESTION; I make them CRITICIZE; I make them APOLOGIZE and MEAN it; I make them write, write, write; and then I make them READ; I make them SPELL–’definitely beautiful, definitely beautiful, definitely beautiful’–over and over again, until they will NEVER misspell either one of those words again! I make them SHOW all their work in math, and then hide it (all their rewrites) in their final drafts in English. I make them realize that if you’ve got THIS (a brain), then you follow THIS (your heart), and that if somebody tries to judge you based on what you make, then you give them THIS (obscene gesture)! Let me ‘break it down’ for you. Let me break it down for you so you know what I say is TRUE. I make a G* ***m difference! Now what about YOU?
–Taylor Mali is a vocal advocate of teachers and the nobility of teaching, having himself spent nine years in the classroom teaching everything from English and history to math and S.A.T. test preparation. He has performed and lectured for teachers all over the world.
–Posted by (but not written by) Lynne Diligent