Thursday, April 24, 2008

Rumors

Pin It “I hate to spread rumors, but what else can one do with them?”
- Amanda Lear

Aren’t rumors a terrible thing? They’ve been around for centuries, and have nearly always either ruined lives or been the means of spreading partial-truths, oftentimes doing no good whatsoever. In fact, I can remember hearing a rumor when I was a growing up about a friend of mine…this vicious rumor, passed around like a soccer ball in a championship game, was soon spread throughout the entire school, nearly everybody thinking that it were true. Well, in a nutshell, the rumor was NOT true, however, it was already too late and the damage was done. Unfortunately for my friend, there was nothing he could do to change the popular belief now shared amongst much of the student body.

There was a rumor today at work…

You can imagine the feeling of surprise I had when one of my students asked: “Mr. Z, is it really true that you aren’t going to teach anymore after this school year is over?”

“What?” I responded, taken aback somewhat.

“I heard that you decided to quit because the kids at this school don’t turn in their homework.”

I gazed at this boy. “Really?” I said, with the vaguest hint of a smile. “I hate to break the bad news to you, but I plan on being a teacher next year.”

He paused as I called my reading group to the front of the room.

“Mr. Z?”

“Yes?”

“Is it true that you are leaving SSV because you hate it here?”

Whoa…just what was going on here? There is usually one rumor each year that I am leaving SSV, however, this was the first time I’d heard this little version.

“Who’d you hear this from?” I asked.

“From Joey.”

“Ah, I see…” I scanned the room, and Joey just happened to be nearby. “Joey, may I have a word please?”

Joey ambled to the front of the room as I quietly asked, “Where’d you hear the rumor that I hate my job?”

Joey began to list a string of names from whence his information sprang. Unfortunately, I cannot remember all of the names as the complexity of the line of individuals involved were much too long and detailed to be logged into the short-term memory by any stretch of the imagination. However, I believe that it went something like this;

“Well, I heard it from Mark when we were playing soccer at recess. One of the girls, Lisa, was telling her friends about it. She said she heard it from her older brother who’d heard it from his friend in at the high school. The friend’s dad was a co-worker on a movie set with Harrison Ford and they were discussing it during a coffee break. I guess Mr. Ford had been talking to his director, Steven (Speilberg), between takes and he said he’d heard it from his wife’s sister who knows this lady with a psychic hotline. She’d received the information while in a trance—I guess she was channeling the transmigrating soul of John Denver…it was him who first knew about it.”

Well, you can imagine my surprise at just how many individuals were keeping up with Lifestyles of Z, and were making it a point to discuss the various and sundry details of my life. I was further surprised when, with a little digging, I soon discovered that there were four other versions of said story which involved everything from being terminated by the district for giving action slips to students for gum chewing, to quitting because of lazy kids who wouldn’t complete their homework.

This is a rumor-filled society and if people want to sit around and talk about whom I’ve dated, then I’d say they have a lot of spare time and should consider other topics...
- Johnny Depp

I set him straight. In fact, I set my whole class straight.

However, as I left school I found myself wondering just why rumors have a tendency to come into existence, and, more often than not, why they are always so cataclysmically overblown? Just what is it about rumors that get us excited to spread the news to others? Of course, if I’m being honest with myself, I’ve taken part in my fair share of rumormongering from time to time.

But it feels different when the rumors are about you.

Well, it’s kind of cool, really. After all…if there are rumors about you, then you are worthy topic of discussion to the masses, and are therefore interesting conversation. I guess there is something to say about that, and it could be worn as a badge of honor. However, it can be quite disconcerting when one finds out just how many diverging versions of the truth are really out there. Just where do all of these different adaptations come from? What is it that motivates a person to spread a fairy-tale with a mixture of truth as being unequivocated gospel fact, when said information has not been accurately checked back at the source?

I guess it’s probably because the truth is not nearly as fun, interesting, or juicy as what one is able to spread with the aid of cell phones, text messaging, and backyard neighborhood fences.

To quell the rumor and set it all straight: I AM transferring schools. I will be teaching 5th grade next year. I am doing this because the reasons I had for staying at my present school are no longer there. I have never kept it a secret that I would stay at SSV only so long as Mrs. Wright, Mr. Firmage, Mrs. Bliss, and Expedition Red Rock were still there too. They are all now notably absent, therefore, so shall I be.

On a final note…it was Alyson Hannigan, the actress from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, once said, “There was a rumor that I was dead. I happened to be off work that day and I had a beeper and the batteries had died so I was just shopping and looking round bookstores. People were frantically trying to get in touch with me, and people were calling hospitals and the news people were calling my agent trying to see if it was true, and I got home and my voice mail was filled with people going, ‘Call me if you’re ok’ - and I was completely oblivious.”

8 comments:

Kris said...

Jason, did you ever play grapevine when you were younger? Good way to learn how a real story gets misconstrued. Try it on your kids. So are you really going back to 5th??? if so good for you. Oh and by the way I hear you are getting married??? HA HA just kidding! Love you!

Gerb said...

No matter where you are teaching there will be a bunch of lucky kids. Good luck in your new adventure next year!

XOXO said...

So where are you going? I'm going to miss you, assuming that I'm there myself next year.

Diane

summer said...

Based on a previous conversation we had this month - I am keenly aware how it feels when you find out that your name has been the topic of conversation. Thankfully, you were able to have a pow-wow with the source and your class...it's not always easy to confront the person or situation, but usually it is the only way. I strongly dislike rumors and knowing that people will at times willfully choose not to completely understand a person or situation before sharing a juicy morsel of information. I really just don't get it...but like you said there are times I will catch myself and realize that there can be a grayish area to all this - however because of my own situation with this, I have recommitted myself to making sure that I will always speak of people's names and situations with only a positive note - even if I think I can't say anything positive...I will find something! That way no one will ever doubt how I speak about them when they are not present.
BTW - good luck with the change and new adventure!

cari said...

First off, I hope wherever you go and whatever you do, you'll be happy. Second, I totally agree with Gerb. Any child who gets to have you teach them is truly lucky! Third, I'm so glad I've heard this from you. Seriously, I've heard ALL kinds of things about you this year from parents, neighbors, and kids. It's crazy! I guess you have a taste of what celebrities go through with the tabloids. [Max told me that you were marrying Miss B (who just got married) and you had to change schools. I set him straight on that one. :)] Is it true that you're going to a school extremely close to SSV? Just wondering because I've heard that too.

Teachinfourth said...

Kris - Rumors, gotta love em. Yes, I'm really going back to 5th...well, I've never taught 5th before, but instead skipped from 4th to 6th so I guess it is good that I back and do it right.

Gerb - An adventure twill be!

Diane - Amelia Earhart. Are you thinking of "moving on?"

LoS - I guess I should always take comfort in knowing that the rumors could be far worse...

Cari - I've also been abducted by aliens...luckily, they realized I was not a suitable "specimen" and I was returned.

K.J. said...

I am glad you aren't going too far so the kids will still be able to find you! I know you have made a difference in a lot of young lives and they still like to visit you. Adults included!
The children and adults at this new school are very lucky to be getting you!
I hope they realize how much goodness you're bringing in! You always give so much, and want very little or nothing in return.
I guess a lot of us from our school are making changes. I miss the way it use to be.
Good Luck next year and Congratulations!

Farscaper said...

I'm sorry you're leaving before my kids get to benefit from your teaching talent. I've heard good things about you for some time now. (my kids are in 2nd grade this year). I wish you lots of luck and good fortune.

This just feels like a repeat from when I was a kid. My brother had a teacher who took her kids (6th grade) on a trip to Cali for a program called "ocean bound". They got to go out on a huge boat and study sea life for a week. By the time I got to 6th grade the teacher had transfered schools and no one else offered that program.

What a bummer that all the good principles and teachers are moving on and leaving us with what??? I don't mean to be a bummer.. I'm just concerned about the school I have put so much faith into for my kid's future. Thankfully my kids have an AWESOME teacher this year. Keeping my fingers crossed for next year. Have any suggestions for 3rd grade?

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