Pages

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Interview with Paul

So, I need some help. Here's the rough draft of my interview with Paul, and a revision. I want to know a couple of things (as well as whatever else you might have to say, of course): Do you think the new version flows well? Is the description of his classroom unnecessary? Is it way too long now? Stephanie thought I needed some more stuff between the last and second-to-last paragraphs. What's your take? Oh, and I've gone with the Dostoevsky approach and nixed the real last name. Clever, huh?

Original
Paul R. – 6’ 2”, 215 lbs., indie rock aficionado, proud Volkswagen Bus owner, former film student – is the last person you would expect to see on this playground. As he herds his 35 inner-city 5th-grade students to recess, one of them asks, “Mr. R., are you afraid of iguanas?"

“Ever since I told her I was afraid of dogs, she asks me if I'm afraid of all kinds of animals,” Paul chuckles. “‘Are you afraid of deer? Are you afraid of sharks? Are you afraid of ducks?’ Why does she do that?”

With his talents, Paul could have done anything, but he felt driven to teach. “I was watching
A Man For All Seasons,” Paul recalls, “and there's a part where Sir Thomas More tells Rich . . . ‘You'd make a fine teacher,’ and Rich says, ‘If I was, who would know it?’, and More says, ‘You'd know it. Your students would know it. God. Not a bad public, that!’” Paul knew that if he could help someone else love learning, he'd find fulfillment. “If you can make a difference,” he declares, “That's life.”

Despite bad pay, tough kids, and complacent coworkers, Paul loves teaching. Iguanas? Not so much.
Revision
Paul R. – 6’ 2”, 215 lbs., indie rock aficionado, proud Volkswagen Bus owner, former film student – is the last person you would expect to see on this playground. As he herds his 35 inner-city 5th-grade students to recess, one of them asks, “Mr. R., are you afraid of iguanas?”
“Ever since I told her I was afraid of dogs, she asks me if I'm afraid of all kinds of animals,” Paul chuckles. “‘Are you afraid of deer? Are you afraid of sharks? Are you afraid of ducks?’ Why does she do that?”

With his talents, Paul could have done anything, but he felt driven to teach. “I was watching A Man For All Seasons,” Paul recalls, “and there's a part where Sir Thomas More tells Rich . . . ‘You'd make a fine teacher,’ and Rich says, ‘If I was, who would know it?’, and More says, ‘You'd know it. Your students would know it. God. Not a bad public, that!’” Paul knew that if he could help someone else love learning, he'd find fulfillment. “If you can make a difference,” he declares, “That's life.”

Of course, the transition from self-proclaimed hippie/rock guru to grade school teacher hasn't been easy. Paul's expectation that an exciting learning environment (pictures of the X-Men and cutout characters from The Office line the classroom's walls; two poisonous tree frogs and a bearded dragon veg beneath UV lamps; overflowing bookshelves crowd every available space along the walls) would lead to angelic behavior died. "I have to be the bad guy sometimes," he says, "some of the kids are just waiting to walk all over you." He's also been surprised by his coworkers' lack of enthusiasm. "You'd think they'd be a little more altruistic, [but] some of them are just in it for the paycheck. . . . [T]heir main goal is to get to retirement and get out." Difficulties notwithstanding, Paul remains upbeat. "I love seeing the light come on in [the kids'] eyes," he says. "Even if it only flickers for a second, you can still tell that . . . you've helped that kid see how cool it is to learn."

"But Mr. Ricks, are you afraid of iguanas?"
Paul laughs, shrugs, glances at his watch. It's time to go back inside.



2 comments:

Anonymous said...

k, your critic probably knows what she's talking about, but i still disagree. maybe she wants something more from your article. maybe she wants something more from me. but the fact of the matter is this: most of life is a short glimpse, an unfinished story, and an understated grace that the victorian era and dickens fans can't stand because of it's honesty.

i liked it a lot. it's humble and poetic. in another life, i would have the objective view that allows one to create without flaunting or embellishing. rock on vato. phr

J. said...

i agree with stephanie. i think something should have been added between the second and last paragraphs. maybe it's because you wrote the first part so well...i was looking for more! it felt unfinished, like you wanted to say more, but kept it at the word limit (if that makes sense).

i think the entire "story" kept me interested. i also like the detailed description of the classroom you added in the fourth paragraph of the revision. do you think perhaps it deserves its own sentence, instead of being secluded in parenthesis? you capture the details well, but then i feel like i have to return back to the sentence after being stuck on the wonderful side comment...