This is in direct contrast with what I saw in the suburbs, where I did my student teaching a long, long ago. I can still remember hearing so much B.S., fielding so many insincere compliments, dealing with so many attempts at extra credit. Maybe things have changed, maybe kids everywhere are honest nowadays, but I'll take my honest city kids any day.
I am reminded of a bit of painful truth a student dished out a couple of years ago as I read about National School Lunch Week on mothertalkers. Among other facts discussed there today are these:
- Children born in the year 2000 will be the first in our country's history to die at a younger age than their parents.
- More than 35 percent of our nation's children are overweight, 25 percent are obese, and 14 percent have type 2 diabetes, a condition previously seen primarily in adults.
Several years back, after class, as students were heading out of my room, a guy hung back and said, "Can I give you some advice? Don't ever wear that sweater again."
Later on I looked in a mirror and saw what he meant. It was a fairly snug black sweater that perfectly accentuated my skinny frame and quickly expanding waistline. I looked horrible. I had to act fast before I had a gigantic gut.
In about three months, the gut was all but gone. I don't have a flat stomach or anything, but I don't have a major gut either. Maybe if I exercised more, I could get rid of another inch or so, but the main thing is, I got rid of the gut. My secret diet?
I stopped drinking Coke.
I stopped eating school lunches.
At night and on weekends, I continued eating pizza, drinking beer, being lazy. But by bringing in a lunch from home and not eating the slop that's forced onto students and teachers, I quickly and easily lost two inches from my stomach.
Students no longer tell me not to wear certain sweaters. Instead, every once in a while, someone says, "You look pretty good for your age." And I know they're telling the truth. So I ask, "Do you maybe have a single mom or aunt who might be interested?"
And they roll their eyes and say, "That was a stupid joke."