I Should Have Learned

(In response to Sarah Kay’s list)

I should have learned by now…
Some kids don’t give a what about writing
So why bother with attempted insighting and grade-grubbing fistfighting?
Give ‘em all an A, like they say, and I can have a stress-free day — Hooray!

No way.

I’m on a quixotic crusade — renegade mental fusillade
Forget the grades, intellectual revolution gots to get made
(And yeah I gots to get paid, but that’s not why I’ve stayed)

I don’t listen to reason, every season apathy allergies got me sneezin
Laziness gives me a rash; my head’s bashed like a slow-motion car crash
I wanna mash on these fools fixated on the cash
Can’t blame the lettuce when they graduate and forget us
I should just take it easy but ignorance makes me queasy
Can’t have a revolution without mental evolution

Keep fighting! More weight! Breathe deep to keep from snappin
I can make it happen, cap’n — “wake a couple ‘heads with my four-star rappin”
The kids who care least need inspiration the most
Wake the ancestors’ ghosts from coast to coast

But I’m exhausted like a muffler tailpipe
Young minds are ripe — don’t believe the hype
Naw, I should be a relaxer and make peace with the slackers
Instead of wearing myself out being a pedagogical attacker
If that kid wants to sleep, what gives me the right to wake him up
and pour enlightenment ambrosia in his red solo cup?
But zombies can be cured — I refuse to be ignored
Knowledge: If you live by this word, you won’t die by the sword

Good enough is not good enough; the world’s full of mediocre stuff
It’s not fair to his family or future identity
If I just let him be — comatose ‘til the age of 23
But what does it get me?
Anxiety, headaches, sleep deprivation
All in the name of some future liberation
I don’t need this frustration and aggravation
How I’m gonna be this kid’s intellectual salvation?

That’s ego domination — right? Isn’t that the explanation?
I should do the minimum required by the administration
I should learn to be bland instead of spicy like selsa
I should learn to let it go like Elsa
But the cold bothers me; I’m from Florida, dammit
Catastrophe is exploding all over the planet
I care about this concept — you need to understand it
A change is gonna come, and it’s time we began it

But why should I care? I can still get mine
If I just hand out worksheets and keep the children in line
Just go for self — isn’t that always the line?
“the vile maxim of the masters of mankind”
It’s the American way; take the path of least resistance
Drop your insistence for significant existence
If I cared a little less and let my classes be lame
I’d have more time for reading and video games

“You can’t reach that kid nohow — he’ll never read a book”
That’s the attitude the teacher’s Little Hater always took
So why be a shnook? Bash your head against the wall?
Pretend there’s a fresh start every year in the fall?
You can’t fix it all, so why put up a fight?
Why not go gentle into that good night?

Because you know the answer — you got red pills to hand out
You’ve got to be Morpheus, make noise and stand out
Rock the Nebuchadnezzar for the future, not vanity
Destroy the whole matrix and rescue humanity