Ah, rhetoric, now, the best class that I’ve taught.
I stand at the front of the room.
Some questions, discussion, then “that’s all that I’ve got”
And they exit. All done before noon.
They’re off to their lunch and other classes,
And I sit in my office to think.
I wonder, sometimes, if I gave them all passes
If anything would really sink.
In two weeks, I get essays. It’s miserable work
Giving comments and questions and grades,
But dutifully, I, with pen in my hand
Give out Ds and Cs and some As.
And on to the next one and on to the next.
The writing improves in small stages.
For some the work’s far too short;
Others go for pages and pages.
I hope some remember the things that I’ve taught
As they move rhetoric onto new stages,
But mostly I doubt it and assume they forgot.
My pessimism could go on for ages.
You’re supposed to be hopeful as a teacher, I’m told,
But I often lose sight of that vision.
The comments about applicability to the real world,
And great authors held in derision…
Though, sometimes, there’s a glimmer of hope for the future
One or two that just seem to get it.
It’s a rarity, sure, but at the end of the day,
Maybe that’s what makes it all worth it.