Taylor Mali – What teachers make

Okay, so this is kind of off topic, but I’m a teacher, and every once in a while, you need a jolt of idealism. It works like adrenaline when you’re getting bogged down by the flotsam and jetsam of administrativism at bureaucratic institutions, filling out forms generated by offices to demonstrate that they are important, and otherwise suffering the slings and arrows of our profession. My friend Laurie Frederik Meer, who teaches at the University of Maryland, sent me this link, and it was just what the doctor ordered: poet Taylor Mali’s ‘What Teachers Make’ with a nifty text video.

If you’re one of the half-million people who’s already seen the video since it was posted in 2009, sorry for the re-post.

Mali writes that the poem has been spread, often with correct attribution, and even ‘sanitized’ in various versions:

I am well aware that “What Teachers Make,” a poem I wrote in 1999, has been elevated/reduced to the level of Inspirational Cyber Spam. It started happening shortly after I posted an unattributed draft of the poem on this very website. Since the poem appeared on my website, I figured my name was unnecessary. But I was wrong. I suspect the text of the poem got copied, pasted, and sent by well meaning teachers and fans. Soon enough, the poem became anonymous, and people began to edit, alter, and “sanitize” it. There are, to my knowledge, at least five different versions of the poem out there circulating. All of them are anonymous.

And if you like his stuff, consider also checking out a video of him reciting his poem, ‘The Impotence of Proofreading,’ which made me giggle until my wife thought I was a little strange.

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