It’s March in the northeast, and I’m tired, sunlight-deprived, depressed, and downright grumpy. So I’m going to tell you why I hate helping with “educational programs” at the museum. Of all the things I do at the museum this is, by far, the worst.
A huge part of our income comes from letting school groups into the museum so we can give them an interactive history lesson and guide them through some fun little educational activities. I’m not so grown up that I don’t remember “field trip day” in elementary school–I remember HATING those days. I LIKED sitting at a desk and doing worksheets or reading. To me, field trips meant having to sit on a hot, loud bus, be herded along with a big group of noisy peers into some godforsaken program where teachers would spend the whole time yelling at you to be quiet and listen to a stranger. Or, worse, you would be forced to participate in ACTIVITIES in front of lots of other people, most of which ended up humiliating me. These were bad days for Little Miss Introvert.
Most kids, however, LOVE field trip days, because they enjoy having the chance to be loud, obnoxious, and generally just goof off. The only difference is that now I’m on the other side of the action, the adult (semi-adult, really) tasked with keeping these loud, obnoxious kids in line. And kids today are generally rude, disrespectful, selfish, and out of control. The difference? When I was in school, the teachers were expected to maintain control of us on field trips. Today the teachers look at ME like “Hey, this is my day off. YOU keep them under control.”
That’s right: Most teachers see field trips as a day for other people to babysit their charges. It’s a continuation of the general American pass-the-buck-it’s-not-my-responsibility attitude that’s been growing exponentially since Barack Obama came into office.
Our other tour guide LOVES doing educational programs, partially because he likes little kids but also because he’s an older gentleman who projects authority. I’m a twenty-something girl who looks much younger. Guess how much respect kids have for me?
I generally try to avoid helping out with these things, but for a few big programs lately, I’ve been drafted. This is because of a few (not many, really, but enough) “complaint” letters we’ve gotten accusing us (the other tour guide, really, who does most of the programs) of
(1) Not having enough staff on duty for the programs. Well, sweethearts, ideally YOU’RE supposed to provide some of the “staff” in the form of teachers. But you don’t really want to supervise your own kids; you want us to babysit them. So, translation of complaint: You actually made us do some work to control our pupils! How dare you!
(2) Being “curt” with the kids. Although I don’t help out with many programs, I have listened in on many from my office upstairs. The other tour guide does his best to be interactive and fun, but when you have 25 kids screaming and shouting all at once, yeah, you have to tell them to be quiet. God forbid! Maybe if the teachers writing these letters told these kids to shut the hell up more, we wouldn’t have these problems, mmm-kay?
So, not only do they not control their kids, they have the gall to complain to US about things that are THEIR responsibility. I hate these stupid little kids and I hate their teachers too. I see the future of society and I’m scared. Yes, many generations have said that about the next generation (my own Gen-Y generation is quiet maligned in this way), and you know what? They’ve usually been right. America is in a downward slide, and has been since the 1950s. And from what I see, it’s only getting worse.
Yes, this is a bitter screed. We actually get overwhelmingly positive feedback on our programs. I’m just really offended that ANYONE would send in a complaint letter when the other tour guide is the most enthusiastic, friendly guy anyone could imagine who’s a volunteer doing absolutely the best he can, and it shows.
For those of you who teach little kids: God speed. I hope you can see more positives in it all than I can. And you can shove your self-righteous complaint letters where the sun don’t shine.