Joyce Whitis

‘Survivor’ is a popular television show. Every episode where human beings are challenged with degrees of difficulties attracts viewers eager to see who will succeed and who will be voted off the island. Personally I think the show is popular because we watch it and think that whatever challenge the person faces is nothing compared to what ordinary people face daily.

Do you think that hanging upside down by a rope and being swung back and forth over a pit of hissing, squirming snakes is a challenge? Shucks. If you are looking for a real challenge, try being a classroom teacher for just six weeks.

Each contestant will be dropped into an elementary school classroom with a copy of the school district’s curriculum and a class of 20 students. Each person must complete lesson plans at least three days in advance, modify, organize, and create materials accordingly. They will be required to teach students, handle misconduct, implement technology, document attendance, write referrals, correct homework, make bulletin boards, compute grades, complete report cards, communicate with parents, and arrange conferences.

They must also tutor those students who are behind, monitor the hallways, complete drills for fire, tornadoes, or shooting attacks. They must continually advance their own education on their own time and pay for this training themselves. This can be done by moonlighting a second job or marrying someone with real money.

Or maybe the Survivor contestant will be asked to serve six months on a local school board.

This contestant in order to leave the meeting room with all his faculties must have skin that is at least an inch thick. This person will be subject to the complaints of each and every teacher and each and every parent and each and every taxpayer within the school district. His phone will ring without ceasing from the moment he comes into the house from his paying job, until long after his head hits the pillow at night.

The contestant will be expected to find a way to get the teachers a pay raise with less duty time, the cooks more money with less cooking, the janitors more pay with less sweeping and the bus drivers better pay with shorter routes.

The contestant who is dropped into one of the positions on the school board will be expected to build new classrooms without raising taxes and shorten the school year without losing state dollars. They will try to convince their spouses that they really did stay in a board meeting until 3 in the morning.

They of course will do all of this without receiving a dime.

Parenting too is an everyday challenge and the contestant who tackles this Survivor episode must experience a void about the time the child reaches 13 years of age. They will not see nor speak to the child for days as he migrates to his room where he lives behind a closed door. The contestant will be teased further by the sound of a reverberating bass thumping through the walls and occasional laughter from within.

There will be times when the contestant will shake his head and wonder who IS that? He will become the ultimate taxi driver for the teen until he obtains his driver’s license then he will become impoverished from the insurance bills for the car his teen drives. Finally he will lose his standing in the eyes of that teen that once looked to him for guidance and now tells his parent how stupid he has become.

As for the class of 2008, a challenge for that Survivor episode would be a contestant placed in a family with a younger sibling who constantly embarrasses him by sending weird text messages to his “steady.” If this is your challenge you will not be allowed to play your music at an enjoyable volume because your mother says it makes her head ache and the plates rattle in the cabinet.

You will be made to drive a 15 year old Ford truck and are told how lucky you are by your grandparents who claimed they were made to walk three miles to school in the snow…up hill…barefoot. You will be subjected to visual images with magazine covers and music videos of unattainable perfection in the form of Miley Cyrus and Brad Pitt. This exercise is sure to keep your self image at an all time low.

You will constantly be subjected to sitcoms on television portraying everyone participating in out of marriage sex, drinking alcohol or smoking. Your parental units add to the confusion by telling you all these things which make the people on television so happy and popular are bad and wrong for you.

All your “why” questions will be answered with, “Because I said so.” Your answer to all “everyone else is” arguments will be the standard, “If everyone else jumped off a cliff would you?”

So the next time you watch an episode of Survivor, just remind yourself, no matter who you are, “That’s not so tough.”