Tempted

Dear Terrence,

Oh, let me tell you, Terrence, I have been tempted some times. I have been so tempted to say so many things that in so many ways would be inappropriate.So very tempted. In the heat of frustration, I have wanted to let students have it — students including you. I’ve wanted to speak the truth — or at least that’s what I thought. That’s how I framed it. But to what end?

Truth be told, some of you guys in your class — those we call “at-risk” — are going to end up in prison. And often, I’ve had a pretty good inkling who. (I’m right at least twice: one former student of mine, at risk in every sense of the word, is now serving life for murder. Another is serving twenty years to life for murder.) Your lack of anger management, your inability to control your impulses, your suffocating ego — it’s not hard to see how all that might collide and produce the perfect storm of anger, resentment, and impulsiveness that leads to people pulling triggers, or punching without end. But I don’t say that because I don’t know: you could turn it all around. Plenty of people have. And so to suggest otherwise would be so very inappropriate and cruel.

True be told, some of you guys in your class are going to end up on welfare. Your lack of willingness to put forth any effort, or inability to deal with the slightest setback, the anger you flash when your work is criticized in any way. All harbingers of the future. But again, I don’t know. You could turn it around. Plenty of people have. And so to suggest otherwise would be so very inappropriate and cruel.

But the temptation — it can be so strong.

Within that lies a certain irony. One of your biggest problems, which other in your class share, is an inability or unwillingness to filter your speech. You think it; you say it. Those are the kinds of things that would get you fired; those are the kinds of things that would get me fired. But more than that, those are the things that are ultimately selfish: saying such things to you would only make me feel better for a moment and would be just another negative experience in your life. So I don’t get in to that temptation. I don’t say those things.

But it’s a good thing you can’t read minds…

With a smile that some would likely mistake as a smirk,
Your Teacher

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