If there is any class of people who have a higher opinion of themselves than Wall Streeters, it’s probably teachers. We’ve never met a teacher who didn’t think teachers were underpaid and underappreciated. The truth is that education is overrated, teachers are overpaid and much of what passes for schooling is time-wasting warehousing of the young, with a bit of brain washing mixed in.
Most teachers despise noncomformist kids who don’t want their approval and don’t share their value systems. It turns out that Neel Kashkari was one of those kids, and now one of his teachers has come forward to lambast him.
“Although I never taught him, I recall him fairly well, and would sum him up by noting a handful of prior impressions of him: his teachers, while praising his diligence and ambition, mostly thought he was a dick,” the anonymous teacher writes in a tip to Gawker. “So did all the cool kids—and by this I mean the smart, interesting, mature kids that teachers normally come to like and enjoy.”
What made Neel a dick? The teacher complains about Neel not being classy enough to know not to show off his wealth, which just reads as snobbery to us. The unreconstructed class hatred here is breathtaking: “for his senior page he chose a picture of himself in full preppy regalia, reclining on a Ferrari. (This was exactly the sort of picture that really worldly kids from highly cultivated families, even those with a Ferrari in the garage, would never be caught dead in. But Neel was clueless about how tacky & laughable this image was.)” Oh no! Neel’s from those lower orders of society who don’t know they shouldn’t be so gaudy! (Note the hint of xenophobia here: Neel, the son of immigrants, is being criticised for not already having adopted the tastes and values of WASPs.)
But the real gripe seems to be about Neel’s politics. Specifically, he supported the first Gulf War. We won’t try to debate whether going to war to liberate Kuwait was a good idea here. But it was an immensely popular war at the time. The fact that the teacher hates Neel for supporting it tells us more about the hubris of teachers than anything about Neel. How dare Neel not adopt the views of “his teachers and other adults in the school community?” Are we meant to be shocked, shocked that the guy appointed by George Bush’s Treasury Secretary might be a Republican?
One last thought. The teacher has a strange definition of cool kids. “I mean the smart, interesting, mature kids that teachers normally come to like and enjoy,” he writes. We sure don’t remember thinking that the kids who teachers really like were especially cool.
We suddenly like Neel a lot more.
(Note: We’re sure lots of teachers are very nice people, especially when they start teaching. We may have even met one or two. At one point I was a substitute teacher. In truth, most of them shouldn’t teach for their entire lives. It’s something that’s probably good to do for a couple of years. After that the habit of talking down to people you think are less intelligent and mature than you are tends to warp your personality. If you are a teacher who thinks you are underpaid, you should do what the rest of us do: ask for a raise or get another job.)