Kevin in San Jose: The "Dead Poets Society" Moment

At some point probably a week before coming to breakthrough

I had a beautiful vision. I was one of those inspiring teachers, like Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society, or some other character from a sappy movie.

Whenever the kids would speak there would be fireworks of wonderment and awe. Their little brains would literally light up and shine in all colors from bright green to scarlet red. Never would I make any mistakes, and after every class all the kids would leave feeling merry and sharing the wonderful stories of their magical lesson with their friends.

Alas, I’m no Robin Williams, and there are no fireworks in my class. Realizing that I’m not amazing at teaching for the first time has been a quite a reality check. (The moment came when I realized my last couple of assignments had confused one of my most enthusiastic students to the point where it might have actually made him un-learn whatever i did teach well)

Teaching just isn’t all that easy, never mind “inspirational” teaching. It is close to the midpoint of the summer and I am confronted by my own imperfections.

I’ve realized that I’ve could have given much better lessons during the first 2 weeks. That the calendar I originally came up to organize the “class units,” isn’t all that useful unless you want to make some nice-looking grey paper airplanes. And yet, maybe the most important thing I realized is that my expectations were unreal to start with, and that this summer is not about me being an “inspirational” teacher (whatever that means), but about my students learning some important and useful skills. I take some comfort in knowing, that despite all my (unintentional) attempts to confuse them, they have actually learned a thing or two. The beauty of Breakthrough, you see, is that the teachers are learning too.


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