Mouth-breathing: A Synopsis

Teaching allows a person to experience a vast array of unique people and situations that are largely unknown to the wider world. To teachers, these things seem commonplace, but I have seen ordinary folks recoil in horror when confronted with them.

One example sticks in my mind particularly today. I was having a perfectly normal conversation with some friends when they asked me how the school year was going thus far. I replied that things were going about as expected; my overachievers were very worried that I didn’t like them, my average students were wondering how hard they were going to have to work to get a C, and my mouth-breathers were wondering when I was going to give up and leave them alone.

“Excuse me, did you say ‘mouth-breathers’?”

“Yes. Yes I did.”

Perhaps an explanation is in order? Some students are gifted academically. Some students aren’t gifted but work hard. Some students have learning disabilities and need extra attention.  And some students are mouth-breathers. In order to get a clearer picture I want you to allow your face to go completely slack for a moment and let your mouth hang open slightly. Do you find yourself having difficulty forming cogent thoughts? Does the world seem suddenly less interesting and colorful? Does that expression make it difficult to summon any kind of passion or interest? – That’s what I’m talking about. Have you ever seen or heard of the play “Waiting for Godot?” It’s like that, but without irony.

Perhaps the mouth-breathers know something that we don’t and only appear to be missing out on the best parts of life. Perhaps they are our modern day zen masters, remaining perfectly calm and aware amid an increasingly schizophrenic existence. After all, who’s to say except the mouth-breathers themselves and they’re certainly not talking!

I suppose that it is at least equally likely that the mouth-breathers are exactly what they appear to be and respirating is more mentally taxing for them than it is for the rest of us.

I’m afraid that today’s entry will be a little short because in a few minutes my students are going to slope into my room and a few of them will undoubtedly stumble to a stop in front my desk to breathe at me for a few minutes until I can’t stand it anymore and ask them what they want at which point they’ll ask me what we did yesterday. This will of course immediately frustrate me because they were actually in class yesterday.

I wonder why some teachers (not me, obviously) are having a hard time accepting the premise that good student scores means good teaching?


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