Too Bad So Sad: Education Is Serious Business
There’s no crying in baseball.
And there’s no laughing in education.
A few years ago when I wanted to publish a humorous book about dealing with difficult parents, I looked around for an educational publishing house with a sense of humor. Luckily I found Cottonwood Press, which not only published teaching materials that were helpful and kid-friendly, but which also published a few definitely quirky and funny takes on education (the “No Child Left Behind Blues CD,” for example, and a few tongue-in-cheek “wanted” posters for teachers). The chief editor and publisher also played the accordion, so it was only natural to also produce a CD called “Polka Therapy,” which featured a couple of teenaged girls singing the lyrics to the polka, “Whatever.” My book was a fit.
Cottonwood has recently been purchased by Prufrock, a fine and serious publisher. Their materials are thoughtful and helpful, but there’s nothing in their catalog you can polka to.
Education is serious business. If you don’t think so, just look at the Sunday New York Times or any edition of Ed Week. Ever see Randi Weingarten tell a joke about teachers? Can you imagine Diane Ravitch or Deborah Meier gasping with laughter? Do education publications run humor columns or cartoons? Does Arne Duncan polka? These, my friends, are grim times that call for grim analysis.
The irony is that working with kids in schools is mostly a joy (which is why the written humor that does exist can be found in a few books written by classroom teachers about their experiences). There are the joys of watching kids learn to read or problem solve or change bad habits. There are the joys of watching a wayward kid graduate or get into college. There are the joys of watching kids grow and realize their potential.
But in addition to the joys, there is outright laughter and endearing silliness. Jokes. Ridiculous answers. Goofiness. Stories that make you smile. In every good school there’s laughter in the faculty room and even, if you’re lucky, during faculty meetings.
So surprise! Education in the field is a lot of fun even though you’d never know it by listening to the national news or reading the education blogsters (myself included).
So I am delighted to share with you today a little rare educational humor that's funny without being snarky and will make you feel good about being in education. It's by slam poet Taylor Mali, and it was shared with me by a colleague who, I think, still knows how much fun school can be.