Melissa Gish, 8/22/2016

Current Occupation: Associate Professor of English, Glenville State College, Glenville, West Virginia
Former Occupation: English professor in Minnesota and New Mexico
Contact Information: Born and raised in Minnesota, I developed the Midwestern work ethic at an early age and am therefore often disheartened by its absence in many other parts of the country. Or maybe I'm just a Yankee snob. Depends whom you ask, I guess. I have been teaching college English for many years and writing for many more. I am the author of more than 70 juvenile nonfiction books. My students can read most of them.

 

#

Song of My Students

 

Show me where it says

I have to like you

to teach you well.

 

Point to a rule that expects me

to show you respect when I

ask you for the third time

not to text

under the desk

and you ignore me like I’m

interrupting your ever so

important thumb conversation

with that guy you met at the mall

last night.

 

You pay tuition like you pay

for blue jeans or coffee. This

education had better fit,

and it better go down smooth

or you’ll complain to the manager,

get your money’s worth dammit

get someone fired.

It’s your right.

 

Right?

 

Show me where it says

I have to like you

to share the world with you.

 

What do I owe you

when you say that teachers

make up shit on the fly and no

one should buy half of what

a prof says in class?

You read that on the Internet,

so it must be true.

 

You swallow the golden grains

served on platforms and blogs

with a hunger reserved for dogs

on the streets of Oaxaca   

but turn up your nose at

allusion and meter

at fractions and axes

at acids and bases

at Whitman and Locke.

 

Like rank ramen in your

dorm fridge left for a long

weekend, this stinks, you say.

Show me, you say,

where I’ll use this in life.

 

You think you bought a book

and a test and a grade

and a job and a future. You

think you bought time

’til real life starts

and all this art and music

and poetry and math

just fills the empty spaces

in your days away

from mom and dad.

 

You think this is enough.

 

Show me where it says

I have to like you

to drive down this one-way street

of communication, shouting in the

wind the means and methods to

analyze

investigate

collaborate

evaluate

and innovate,

hoping that you’ll

study and dissect,

and probe and explore,

and question and consider,

and . . .

at the very least . . .

just read the fucking book.

 

Show me where it says

you have to like me to learn.

 

If you treated my eval like that psych quiz

last week—Christmas treed

those blue bubbles

with your number two

pencil—I’d be no less entertained

by the comments on the back:

 

Speaking of my strengths,

you say

“She gave us candy” and

“I have wrote better papers in this class since high school.”

 

As for my weaknesses,

you perceive the best of them:

“She dresses weird.”

“She has an odd accent.”

“Sometimes I feel like I'm learning other things besides English.”

 

I guess you think I should apologize for this.

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