Alfie Kohn’s essay, “Corridor Wit: Talking Back to Our Teachers” was an unfortunate choice to write or publish.
It’s smug, it’s dated, it’s unnecessary at this particular point in time, and it’s unfunny.
That’s the worst part. It’s completely unfunny. It has the same level of “wit” that my articles for my high school newspaper had back in the day. Maybe less, in that I’m particularly proud of a column I wrote in which I changed the words to Christmas carols:
O Christmas tree O Christmas tree,
How lovely are your braches.
The best of luck to all our teams,
Coach Milkovich’s, Coach Vance’s.
It was tricky to get “Milkovich” in there but he was the wrestling coach and my high school was all about wrestling.
Anyway, Kohn’s telling us now what he should have said to his teachers lo those many years ago is kind of snarky and makes you wonder why he’s hung on to that stuff all these years. One might think (or hope) that teachers who said things like, “Would you like to share what you were saying to her with the rest of us?” would be long-retired from teaching or dead. Not that I’m wishing they’re dead; it’s just that a lot of time has passed. And today a kid could just text.
My point here is that except for a very few folks like Taylor Mali, there is very little humor in education today. Look up “education humor” or “funny education books” on Amazon and you’ll see what I mean. Still, one of the best and funniest movies I’ve seen recently (no, not “Bad Teacher”) is “Win Win,“ a story, coincidentally enough, about high school wrestling.
Not a lot of people saw this little movie, but if you’re sick of listening to people criticize and complain about schools and teachers and parents and you haven’t laughed in a while, rent this movie and watch it by yourself or with people who actually care about kids. It stars the wonderful Paul Giamatti and Amy Ryan, for starters, probably my favorite actors. The kid who plays the high school wrestler, Alex Shaffer, is a kid who actually wrestles and is new to acting, but a natural. This isn’t a sit-com; it’s more like The Winter of Our Discontent that ends in a way that is entirely believable and confirms your feeling deep down that whatever people are yapping about at the national level, what matters is kids and the adults who love them and teach them.
So, Alphie, get over it. Times have changed, and people move on. Rent the movie.