Ok. Maybe the more correct title of this blog should be “I am the Zack Snyder’s Batman of Teaching” but this one seems to flow off the tongue better. Before I get into the whys of it, I want to give a brief response to the movie, Batman V Superman Dawn of Justice. There may be spoilers but in my opinion if you haven’t seen it by now, you won’t. Also, this is my OPINION. It only applies to me.
I read everything I could get my hands on before I saw the film a week after it came out. Wow. I felt like this is the movie Marvel is trying to make. It was philosophical, violent, Shakespearean, and modern. Like Perry White says in the movie, “Kent, it’s not 1938.” And it’s not. Man of Steel was written so that Superman’s only way to end it was to end it. I didn’t like that Superman killed. BVS answered my opinions and doubts by answering with the climate of 2016. I loved watching Supes struggle with what it means to be good and having to justify that behavior in the public eye. I can say something damaging but untrue about a public figure and that could ruin them. I’ve loved Superman since I was seven spending lots of quarters on the guy, but the real performance was Ben Affleck. He was so caught up in his own grief he almost became another guy who kills another Martha. How many people actually recognize when they fail people? in Life? in Death?
Ben Affleck’s Batman is older and just for full disclosure I’m 49. He’s wizened, grizzly, pissed, tired and weary. That is just how I feel as I end my 27th year of teaching. I’ve had so many of my teachers stay on the job into the 40’s. I cannot imagine how. I feel I am the best teacher I have ever been. Ihave taught so many grades and different subjects that I almost think I could teach math. But, I also feel so tired- tired of the stupid paperwork nobody reads, tired of everyone but someone in the trenches telling me the way we did it last year isn’t as great as they thought and we are going to do something totally different next year because we know what’s the best thing for students in stead of asking the people who teach the material, tired of students not doing their work and really not getting why they are supposed to, tired of parents coddling their children to the point that they won’t try anything because they are so afraid they will fail and so what if they do, and mostly tired because administrators who were in the classroom seem to forget everything and treat us like we have no voice when it comes to the classroom, curriculum, or instruction.
As I watched Batman on screen, he broke cardinal long-standing comicbook Batman rules. I got it. He was tired of just beating up bad guy after bad guy just to have them come back again. He was tired of living a double life of smiles and sure you can turn that assignment in two weeks late because… (oh sorry, I slipped into me.) He felt like he was just spinning his wheels. He finds out the already corrupted system is manipulated by Lex Luthor who almost got away with his dastardly plan. Just when he believes in what he is doing and believes what he is doing is not only right but necessary (getting rid of the alien menace, Superman), he gets the rug pulled out from under him and realizes he was played for a fool.
As I watched the movie, I was stunned by how much I felt like Batman. I promised myself years ago as I watched the old lady teachers I would never become that. Maybe it’s because it’s April. Or because this year more than any other I didn’t have any fun teaching or it doesn’t feel like we did as I think on the year. Sometimes I want to say what I really think in the faculty meeting.
Here is what struck me the most. At the beginning of the movie when Superman and Zod are fighting and destroying Metropolis, Bruce Wayne gets in his car and drives as close as he can. He does what he can to help. He rescues a girl from being crushed by concrete. He helps lift a steel girder off a man’s legs (said man become important later in the movie). Even if Bruce Wayne become Batman in that moment, there was nothing he could really do. The look on his face is the same look on mine. Almost. Every. Day. Defeat-he is powerless to really help. Anger-why can’t he help. Envy-why can’t he be powerful. Batman started the movie pissed– pissed because all the power he had as Batman couldn’t help at all.
His face was my face. His emotions were my own, just not about the destruction of Metropolis. I LOVE being a teacher. After teaching this long those students become adults and we have conversations on social media all the time about what they studied and how they use it in life. I have affected years of students in positive ways. I don’t want to be Batman. I want to be Superman again. I want to feel like what I do in my little classroom saves the world because up until this year I always thought it did. I can’t begin to explain what I think is wrong with the education system, a system that desparately needs an overhaul. But, I can thank Ben Affleck for his time appropriate portrayal. This movie made me think in so many ways. The most important way helped me see it’s easy to lose your way. I realized that as Batman realized it–save Martha. Nope, you just saved me.