Last high school year I was taking a course in world literature. By that time I’ve read through the majority of works included in the course and had a distinctive opinion about each work the course featured. Moreover, during the summer break that preceded my lash year I attended a high-level international summer school on world heritage.
The teacher of world was notorious for her strictness and authoritarian style of teaching. The first lesson revealed that the course was no pleasure or use to me. Attendance obligatory, I was doomed to waste my time listening to familiar commonplace. My classmates didn’t take an active interest in the subject so class discussions lacked depth and insight.
Therefore I ended up sitting alone at the last desk and was reluctant to participate in class discussions. Due to my brilliant performance during the tests and merit of my papers the teacher took me for a strong yet shy student. This played into my hands – I hided behind the backs of my classmates and read a book of my choice.
The day we were discussing Stendhal’s “The Red and the Black” (and in my humble opinion the book lacks dynamism and sometimes even artistic merit) I was reading “Trainspotting” by Irvine Welsh during the class. For the whole semester I managed to conceal my idiosyncrasy towards the teacher but that time a conflict was inevitable. During the class on Stendhal the teacher approached my desk and spotted me reading “Trainspotting” instead of “The Red and the Black.” She was furious.
“I didn’t expect you to read this kind of trash literature suitable only for uptown jerks and South Park fans,” – and she took the book away on her table promising to report to the headmaster.
“Frankly, I prefer Irvine Welsh to Stendhal,” – I said in a calm and slightly indifferent voice.
On saying that, I left the class taking the book from her table on the way out.
The teacher was boiling over with rage and gave me a long spiteful look when I was leaving the class with the book in my hands. Uncomfortable silence fell. The students didn’t support me but nobody laughed at me or the situation. After the class some students shouted at me because the whole group might have failed the upcoming test.
I reflected upon this situation for quite a time. When I was doing the thing that went beyond the defined, expected, established or popular I felt that it was a natural thing to do. However, on leaving the class I felt a mixture of shame and embarrassment. Irvine Welsh wasn’t something I would defend to death. If I had respect for the teacher I would go excuse myself. I left the situation as it was and preferred to forget about it after graduation.
But the most valuable lesson I learnt from this situation was the one of reserve and self-control.
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