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June 19th, 2004 - Children and Teaching

Dear Journal,

 

Yet, another day with those moronic dunderheads of mine.  Today was the end-of-year clean-up in my class. Well, clean may be a dysphemism for sullied desks. Not a single one of them knew a proper cleaning spell.  Had to actually teach them how to get rid of old dirt! What have they been learning at home?  In my time, we used to clean up our own messes by fear of being hung up on the roof, but nowadays young people are so clueless.  Clueless because they don't need to be witty anymore. They have all at hand. They are spoon-fed from the day they are born till they can afford a house elf because they are too pathetic to do their own bindings. What has our world come to? 

I mean, there has even been a shortage on house-elves for the past 5 years due to the increasing demand. Young people marry and get themselves a house-elf before they even bring the marital bed in. Parents are such sissies with their little twits.  Positive reinforcement!  Ah! Let me laugh!  Those kids are so pampered up, the second they scratch themselves they 're off running to Poppy. I should know since I 've had to almost double the number of potions she needs in the last five years. What is it going to be when a Dark Wizard preys on them?  “Oh, please Harry Potter save me?  Yes, that 's surely what they will say.  Ah!  I hope I will still be there to see those poor little cretins faint in front of an enemy.  Then again, you know what their parents will say?  It is the teachers' fault for not training them properly to defend themselves. We are going to sue you! 

Right!  As if I or my colleagues did not try to impale at least a little bit of knowledge into their thick skulls!  And I am not kidding when I say “"impale"” because we are up to  that nowadays if  we want them to remember anything.  At least, that is my way, but too often I find so many distasteful methodologies used by my peers.  Gives me nightmares, really.  They say lessons should be fun, interesting, hence they actually perform a show for their students in order to get their attention.  We are not there to entertain, but to teach.  Learning and how to use it should be a reward in itself.  But nooooo!  They want better brooms, finer clothes, the newest Zonko tricks, the most interesting classes each time, no homework and pass each classes with outstanding grades without raising one finger.  What kind of moronic society are we building with this new generation?  Makes me miss the days when Potter was there... bet you can imagine how desperate I am!  Common sense should be commercialized, I should bottle it and I swear, I’would become as rich as that muggle Billy Gate-something. 

...

Then again, maybe not since those kids are too stupid to know what is good for them.  They’would just see my potion and pretend they do not need it or foolishly think they are just right the way they are now.  Hilarious!

Dumbledore says it takes all kinds of people to make a world.  Well, I can admit one or two clueless student per class, but what with only one or two intelligent ones in each class!  What kind of idiotic parents do they have?  Who are going to be our medi-witches or medi-wizards when Albus won't be around anymore? My present students? Certainly not!  They can't remember the proper ingredients to first-year potions! Ah! You tell me the answer to this one, Albus!   

For five years, I had to lower the curriculum since they could not perform anything right from the start.  Had to show them basic things such as cleaning their instruments properly, taking care of their ingredients, not spoiling them or simply do their homework.  In my first classes with this new generation, I have had about 30% of them not do their homework.  They  "forgot" to do it, they said.  Did not write it in their agenda, they said.  Forgot it under their bed, they said.  Ah!  Here's what I said: “"Well then I hope you will not forget your detention tonight because if you do, you might wish you truly could cast out an Obliviate on yourself so as to forget the pain I will inflict on you.  If you can cast an Oblivate that is!" Morons!  Indeed, one would think that they would all show up, but noooo! One of them actually let his mind go astray and did not show up.  Had better things to do so he could not recall, he said. Believe me, if there is something he will never forget, it's the stench of the stables cleaned by hand!  I also warned them that the next dunce who forgot his homework might very well end up in a secluded place and be left to rot there a bit... because I would "forget" it. That should teach them that I am not as indulgent of those puny silly situations as my colleagues are.  The others tell me I'm too harsh, that they're just teenagers.  But they are having a hard time, too.  

They are also faced with difficult situations or questions they never taught they'd have to answer because they seem so essential. Yet, students don't know. They don't know manners, respect, proper care of their material or personal belongings, ethics, and neatness. You would expect better from 11 years-old and up, but again, no! It simply does not cross their minds to try.  For example, they prefer to ask questions before, express their concerns or outrage that you may be wrong when they cannot fathom facts you have known since before they were born.  Oh I hate when they do that!!  They have so much cheek nowadays.  Don't know their place because their parents treated them as friends or royalty!  Imagine 25 to 30 kings and queens in the same room all acting in their own egoistical ways, and you will know why I am having nightmares.  Darn! There is only one boss in the classroom and it is I!  Not them, I ! 

How could their parents let those social atrocities walk out of their homes.  My father would have killed us or commit suicide before he let any such children walk out of his manor.  Well, maybe that was too much strictness from his part, but now we are completely in the opposite situation, which is worst in my sense.  Worst because independency and thinking one is royalty can bring about the fall of a society while frightened children will not be as confident. A confident person can easily walk off the plank while a scared person will not be so foolish in case there are sharks out there. Maybe Potter was the precursor of them all.  I almost miss him since I am now faced with little James Potters in all of my classes instead of just one!  God bless me! I truly need it!

 (sigh)

Before, I thought teaching would do me some good. Actually be able to share my thirst for knowledge, to bring them to some understanding of the underlying power of magic.  Bullshit!  All students are interested in is the end of the class, Quidditch, relationships and fun.  Nothing else.  Maybe Ravenclaws are an exception, but since they do so out of competition most of the time and that grades is not concomitant to common sense, I will refrain from excluding them totally. Even excelling students wouldn't chose school over more amusing tasks. Alright, maybe also the Granger chick.  She was an annoying exception whose worst fault was being a Gryffindor, unfortunately.   But for most of them, they do not crave for anything most of the time unless they have a specific liking for a subject in particular.  And even then, they just scrape by it, doing the minimum required. 

I never did that.  Never allowed myself to do my minimum unless I was in a very bad situation in my personal life.  If not, I would always hand in great projects or essays because I knew that is what I could offer.  I always gave my best at everything while others just filled the minimum requirements and went off to play.   That is why I am so enraged in class.  I 'm pouring out all of my precious knowledge into their little feeble brains and all they have to say is: “Oh no, not another homework.” or “When is this class ever going to end?” or “Is it the week-end yet?   They are not even in, they already want to be out!  And nowadays, they do not even make any efforts to cover their satisfaction at the end of class or when a class is cancelled.  And I am not saying that only for my classes. I have seen my share of students stampeding out of other's classrooms my whole life, good teacher or not.  Some even have the cheek to ask for special treatments instead of House point such as no homework!

Not lots of students come up to the teachers with good questions, too of course. I was renown for my difficult questions when I was a student.  Actually, I still am as a teacher.  Makes it the more challenging and interesting.  School is just what you make out of it, hence, I long decided I would make it something worthwhile.  What is the point if you cannot ask significant questions.  It is so intriguing and appealing to take the level of knowledge taught for the curriculum up to the next with your teachers.  Only then can you truly appreciate the qualities of what they’are teaching you, when you reach higher. Unlike some of my present students who sometimes refute what I say in broad daylight!  These kids have certainly been inbred with a suicidal mind for even attempting to disagree with me without even so much as asking themselves why I say the things I do.  I am not joking, they really do say: “That can't be right, Sir!  How would they know? They have not even graduated from Hogwarts and they’are already refuting what a Master tells them!  How obtuse!! 

 

I have this fear of being ridiculed, but it never reached such heights before I met with this new generation of morons. That is why I am the more angry and a bigger git than ever. How dare they insult my knowledge?  Knowledge for which I sacrificed countless hours of studying, reading, and remembering!  They have no respect for hard work and earning one's own medals. They were given everything their heart desired on a silver plate, and now they expect the rest of their lives to be as such. I repeat myself but, where are we heading?  Hell! Hell is my answer. A world full of ignorant wizards and witches who do not know how to fend for themselves.  We will be at the mercy of other magical creatures in less than 50 years, mark my words!

 

I am just thinking about what the Ministry is doing about this situation and it makes me sick. I think I would rather die young if what they’are planning for those dear little cretins will remain for long.  Indeed, they said that due to the high drop rate from school, schools should revise their teaching styles. They also hinted that we should lower the standards so that more students get a diploma. But then, what's the worth of the diploma if you don't have to work hard for it!  I saw the OWLS and NEWS, they changed!  They are not as difficult as they used to back in my time or even Potter's time. Yet, the failure rate increases!  Can you believe that?! But the Ministry doesn't recognize it because they're afraid of what other countries will say. Imbeciles. As if other countries did not use the same bureaucratic tactics as they! If you can't change students, then change the teachers they thought.  We are under Ministry regulations after all. Hence, they developed a reform to help students reach their 7th year diploma. Ah! They went as far as hinting me about my grade standards and teaching methods, but I told them that I would not abide to their newest bright idea to make their jobs worthwhile. Why so? Because reforms are often ways for the government to justify their jobs.  They start out from what people most need or complain about, then they try to "think"” (too strong a word in this case maybe) for years on end how they could solve a problem.  Then, up in their ivory towers, they make up a plan without truly asking those of us who are faced up with said problem.  When they finally impose new rules, we have to live with it until adjustments can be made to render them useful in real life while it was so perfect on paper.  By the time we adjust, those twits have already hatched yet another reform to, once again, justify their jobs.  The vicious circle rolls and rolls. Just like the hamster wheel each of them have in their tiny little heads.  Oh!  For Heavens'’sake!!  Is there no end to this human nightmare? 

I 'll tell you what would attract children to school instead of wanting to drop out: stop feeding them, stop offering them the moon, stop trying not to hurt their feelings when they do something wrong, stop pampering their little hearts, show them the cold truth of life and let them think by themselves instead of giving them the answers and be satisfied with silly ones.  That is not helping them get through life at all.  The number of suicides went up high these last years for silly reasons such as one's first broken heart. Why? Because those kids never experienced hardships.  Were another war to befall us, our children would be defenseless. They are merely surviving on others.  Let them make mistakes, experience the rage of some adults when they do idiotic stuns, let them think for a minute in order to find their own answers instead of memorizing whole books for an exam they will walk away from empty-headed. If you do that, then they will understand what’is good for them, that life is not free, that you have to earn it.  They will find it hard, they will cry, they will scream, they will be angered, but the day they will make something worthy of their capacities for the first time, believe me they will be happier than all those times they consoled them for frivolities or cured them with potions for mere mosquito bites!  And when every child will give it's best, than I swear, I will not be angry at them anymore because they will do what they know they can instead of just scraping by in my class.  They will want to learn what magic can do for them and what they can do for magic. 

 

Fortunately for me, it is the week-end though I now suffer from an overwork-elicited flu.  I get so angry at times I loose my voice afterwards.  By chance there are good potions for that condition. I had to concoct one myself though, since the last specialist medi- wizard I met was an utter idiot.  No problem, I will cure myself, I told him.  That was a long time ago, I do not suffer dunderheads well, hence I stay as far as possible from as many strangers as possible. People say medi-wizards are intelligent because it takes so long and hard studies to reach that title. However, I believe intelligence and common sense are not concomitant.  I should know because I know those "genius" by heart since we were always competing against one another in class.  Common sense and wit against memory-intelligence.  People don't realise it, but those "bright" people, they just have a good memory.  They hear something, they know it.  However, when comes the time to do something with said knowledge, you may be surprised how stupid they can be.  Or in other fields or on the week-ends, I swear, they have a "finite incantatum" on their brains!  I do not.  My brain is always there, working, analysing, understanding.  I never let my mind wonder off or have too much fun unless I'm pretty sure I'm totally free the next morning. True, it is exhausting, but I believe it is worth that price. "Bright" people do not however.  

Hence, I cure my voice by myself, but I refuse to get a pepper up potion which would leave my hair fuming.  The whole lot of them already are laughing at my expenses due to my naturally greasy hair. Wouldn't want them to call me a steamed greasy lard at that.  I will not give them that pleasure. Always perfect, I have to be perfect. Anyhow, even when I do try to take care of my hair, nobody bothers, so why not save my breath and let the matter drop.  They would find something else to insult me with while I stroll pass them, greasy hair or not. 

That’is why I do not care so much anymore.  They say I’am the rude one.  Indeed, I can be quite so at times, but if I go back in time, I became like that because they refused to recognise me in the first place.  I say "they" when I talk about the mass, the majority.  I’have always been different, with no friends.  Just people trying to take advantage of my abilities. But at the same time, those were my salvation from a world of inexistence. I was at least someone as long as I was used.  I let it get too far though, loosing almost everything when I took the mark. I try all I can to make up for it, even now that the Dark Lord is dead thanks to our national Potter Savior. Still, I feel a sorrow that will not leave me.

I’am alone.   All alone.  Nobody to care.  Well, I am not what you could call a social person, far from it.  Therefore, I always had problems following social conventions especially the art of social gatherings where all talk about trivial things.  I just do not know how to do such talks. That must be one of the few things I’am almost ridicule at. That and menial work.  When my brain is not involved in the process, I’am not skilled at all. I know how to cope but I’am not excellent at it.   I'm good at hiding my feelings though, that's how I managed to reinforce myself over the years.  If you don't show your weaknesses, they can't get you, right?

Drives me crazy at times ‘because I’am such a perfectionist.  Maybe that’is why I hated James Potter from the first day we met: he was so good at everything and he did not even try.  He did not have to make efforts, damn him.  Naturally talented.  At least, I always had something more than him: common sense!  Still did not stop me from associating with the Death Eaters, I concede. However, it was those bad treatments from Potter and his cronies which made me turn my back to the light. It starved me while all I was seeking was someone to see me, to be there and notice that I existed.  The few who came close were soon gone though.  Mostly recommended by others to not associate with me. That I was a difficult person to be with. Too direct I believe. I was raised in directness and subtlety.  Weird combination, but it represents me all the same. Hence, I took it upon me to stay alone, even though it’is so hard at times.

 

I’am not staying alone because nobody wants me. Not exactly.  I could make out with others, be nice and friendly and laugh at their stupid jokes. But then I'd be denying myself, and when I do, believe me, I am even less pleasant than I am right now.  When I'm not in my element, I'm hellish!  When emotions run high, I'm an horrible man indeed and I can chew you and spit you out without realising it.  If you look no further, you would think that I were the one rejecting the others and being bad. But it's the other way around. Being alone is a conscious choice I made times and times again from when I was young. I always chose to be left alone than be bullied around. True friendship is not what others had to offer me.  They were just offering in order to get afterwards, when they offered at all that is.  Most people whom I helped never gave it back.  Not that I wanted it, but at least some recognition, some attention would have been nice. But no, it rarely came.  Still, I couldn't help myself from trying to be accepted like I was, so I never said no unless it was against what I valued.  But in the serpent's den, you are all alone.  

Also, the way my mind works and my values are different from most. And my will power to stand for what I believe in is so strong that I cannot put a stop to it.  Hence, from my weird ideas and interests, I was not popular at school, and to top it all, like I said, I’am not the social type.  Being interested in school is not considered a quality by most.  Being arrogant and “cool” like James Potter was however.  The little bastard!  He got all the attention while I had none, yet I was the one with the most common sense.  Can't understand why Lily stood by him in the end.  I thought she had some more sense than to fall in love with this air head. 

(sigh)

She did tell him off once when she rescued me. At the time, I was way too shameful to admit it of course. She showed me more respect that day than any other students had, still, my only defence was to insult her and call her a mudblood.  Stupid I was!  But circumstances were otherwise, lots of pressure from the Slytherins and my education. God!  I could have cried out my relief that finally someone stood by me and understood my predicament and how Potter and his gang were obnoxious.  Lily, in her own way, cured me a bit.  Always liked her from afar.  But popular girls do not fall for unpopular ones.  Why is that so?  Nobody approaches the weird one.  He’is always chosen last.  How cruel.  When I had the chance, I chose those who were usually like me first because I knew the crushing humiliating feeling of not being chosen… but why would they not do it for me?  When the same rejected ones had the chance to choose me, they betrayed me and chose the most popular one in the hopes of rising in their estime.  What a waste, poor fools!  They were back to being nobody the second they were not in a position to choose anymore, and the popular ones stood strong together once again.

I always did what I had to, my best, even though people treated me badly.  At times, I was so frustrated, then I would tell them to sod off or hex them.  But it always came back to me, this guilty feeling. 

Until one day, I had had enough and joined the Death Eaters. 

If I was going to be a reject, I would do it well. 

Got me into more trouble did it not?  How ironical!  I wonder how proud those goody-two-shoes Griffindors would be if I told them that because of all their bullying I turned against them and joined the only group available?  Ah!  They created a monster indeed!  I know it’is my own fault, really. I should not have given them that power over me.  But I’am but a weak human. Just that unfortunately.  It’is silly, but I wish I could have been a werewolf or something like that.  Yes, I’am not lying.  At least Remus got friends because he had a condition.  My character cannot be accounted for by any disease at all. I am who I am. Remus was a victim and still his.  I was a victim of life's cruelty, but who can prove that?  Nobody, hence I am left alone. Of course, Remus had his share of bad times, of rejection as well. However, he got friends at one point. He has those social skills I lack. Lucky him. I guess I was always envious of him. He would surely call me crazy were he to read that. I can easily imagine.

So yes, I am alone.  Except for Albus.  Dear old fool.  God, I hate how much I like him at times.  For me, love was a weakness when not within my family because each time I trusted someone with love, they ran away with it. Scared they were.  But not Albus.  He reaches to me so easily while I can not fathom half of who I am!  I do see him as a father. How come I was blessed with such a faithful parent, I have no idea.  Maybe my return to the light, who knows! Life works in wicked ways. I made amends, even though it’is hard to live with whom I am. I’am spiteful, angered, prejudiced, sharp tongued, and extraverted in my ramblings. How can anyone live near me?  Strangely, Albus takes me in just as I am. So is McGonagall though her strictness and coddling towards her students sometimes gives me goose bumps.  The other teachers are nice too, but they do not get it.  They are being polite at least and respect my expertise. But they would not live with me were I to plague the teacher's room all the time.  It would become deserted in less than a week were I to allow myself to remain there for social chit-chats. 

Argh!  Just the idea of idle chat makes me shiver.  That’is why I hate social gatherings unless it’is a conference.  And even then, most people at the interlude want nothing more but to indulge in trivial conversation.  Almost nobody wants to actually discuss about the reason why we’were all there to begin with: the conference.  How strange.   Except for the lecturer, I believe most people prefer to hung on their tea cups and ask each other what’is for dinner.  Much safer subject than the uncertainty of bringing out theories in front of peers.  Dear no! They could look like fools!  As they say, it's better to remain silent and look stupid than to open your mouth and prove it.  However, I am not ashamed of what I think. I like a good discussion, it's what teachers should do!  

Unfortunately, I'm pretty much displeased with what teachers like to talk about.  Not much of them are not dunderheads when it comes to something not involving their own field of study.  A shame really.  It's hard to come by anyone interested in learning whatever the time of day, really.  Except for Granger of course.  But for some reason, I can't bring myself to befriend Potter's friend.  And her Know-it-all bossy side unnerves me to no end at times. Maybe I'll deal with my inner demons concerning that subject another day.  

I really should head for bed.  This flu is making me tired.  No night patrols for me today! If I do, it's mainly because I always liked empty spaces at night.  So peaceful and magic. I love to think it's all mine, too, when nobody is around. When I catch students out of bed however, I feel angry for their foolish rule-breaking and for invading my personal space.  Sorry, I diverge. I have to sleep now.  

Nox! Severus