Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Oct 12 2009

a reflection on anger

I initially wrote that TFA wanted me to get mad. I remember at induction something along the lines (and by induction i mean some un-numbered TFA brain-wash session) that people are not mad about this! we need to get people mad about this!

People ARE mad. It’s just the wrong people. And it’s the wrong kind of anger.
The weird thing about doing TFA in the city I grew up in is that I feel like I have crossed some type of boundary, but one that I was never meant to cross. I have entered this other world that was supposed to remain hidden from view. I feel, not like a new inhabitant, nor an interloper, but a trespasser.

In this world where I have trespassed, and entered, everyone is mad. Parents yell at their kids, the school, me, all the time.  In my old world, brief encounters with strangers would all be polite, even if repressed animosity would shine through. These everyday interactions have metamorphosed into hostile locutions. The hostility colors this strange land I now inhabit.

This anger is not productive. This anger is not the kind TFA wants me to have, the kind that I would theoretically internalize, furnish within my body and lead me to make structural change. This anger is poison. I see it poison my kids all the time. I watch them shut down in front of people who scream and yell at them. I see them leave school and transform into people that scream and yell. I become someone who needs to scream and yell, to discharge this venom that is injected into me by these everyday strangers.

The anger characterizes the smallest of moments. It is often absent during large conversations, where structure precipitates civility. It lives and breathes in the exchanges that would go unnoticed if they were polite, or nuetral.

There must be a way to channel this anger. I am thinking of yeast, who live until their own excrement kills them, but under certain conditions make delicious beer.

2 Responses

  1. wearepennstate

    This is a really hard thing to deal with. I have had some success in encouraging students to write about their problems (for example, when they get mad at me, I tell them that they can tell me exactly what they want to say, but it has to be in a letter). I’m not sure if you’re into sports at all, but many students have success in channeling this anger into athletics. I have taken students jogging with me before (with parent permission), and have encouraged many students to take part in sports, dance, etc…anything that gets them moving.

  2. x

    My experience as a coach is one of biggest contributors to this experience. My school doesn’t have a gym so we practice at a nearby school and the gentleman who lets us in yells at me literally every time for one reason or another. In front of my girls.

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