I wasn’t the biggest school spirit type person in high school. I had my share of gear in the right colors that I wore more or less because I had it and had no actual personal style. I went to stuff at school because that was what you did and it was where people were, not because of any sort of…
Sad and pathetic tribalism. being “proud of our school” makes good little soldiers and party faithfuls.
It’s about learning not joining together to defeat the Other.
I know I should just leave this and not feed the trolls. But I’m biting.
First: I refuse to accept the label “pathetic” for taking pride in the school and community I teach in. Obviously school is about learning. Obviously. Classrooms do not exist in isolation. You can’t teach a kid that doesn’t trust you. You can’t teach a kid if they don’t believe that you are invested in them. I teach science. Almost none of my students have any interest in becoming professional scientists. Many of them pour their energy and talent and enthusiasm into their extra curricular activities. So yes, I go to that stuff, in addition to busting my ass in the classroom for them, as a way to demonstrate to them that I care about their science work and who they are as people.
This isn’t about “banning together to beat the Other.” That sentiment existed nowhere in my original post. This is about demonstrating confidence in the young people whose science education has been entrusted to me. It’s about demonstrating solidarity with my hard-working and talented colleagues. This is not just about sitting in the stands for a few Fridays in the fall and cheering on the varsity football team. This is about sitting in those stands with the marching band and cheering those kids on. This is about going to the musical even when you have no kids performing because the kids you teach will be there and will see that you find the work of students worthwhile. This is about watching your students perform at choir concerts, dance concerts, and band concerts. This is about chaperoning the Homecoming dance and volunteering to time events at the track meets. It’s about spending $10 to buy a class t-shirt because the money goes back to the kids and every single time you wear it the kids are reminded that you are thinking about them.
This isn’t tribalism, and it’s not about training my kids to be soldiers. It’s about supporting them in whatever they choose to pursue so that when they show up in my classroom, they are willing to listen and try because they know that I genuinely care about seeing them succeed. I have school spirit not because of our football team (which, frankly, is terrible—I’ve never actually seen them win) but because when I pull into school at 6:20 in the morning, I am not the first one there. When I leave at 5:30, there are still cars in the parking lot. When I show up at a track meet, parents see me and thank me. When I am in the stands at a football game, parents tell me about how they, like their children, were born and raised in this community and that it’s great to see teachers who care enough to be present. I love green and gold not because I want all of my students to be blindly obedient to some larger body, but because those are the colors that my school uses to weave together the vast array of diverse talent present among our students and staff. Teaching is not a 9-5 day job, and you aren’t successful if your philosophy is that your classroom is the only thing that matters and that your content is the sole objective of your job.
Teaching is about people and relationships. Students don’t learn from teachers they view as detached, and by and large teenagers struggle to relate to pure academics (I’m an academic at heart—I know). If they can see me outside of school, supporting them, then my classroom will be a more productive place.
Well said. I would also like to add that this particular tumblr teacher (and many others like her) put great effort into enabling students to think for themselves. Would we like to see school spirit and pride from our students? Sure. But we also give them the skills and habits to decide for themselves the organizations they support. Pride does not equal unthinking supporters.