A Screwtape Letter for the Overworked Teacher

After reading A Screwtape Letter for the Unappreciated Mom, which moved me to tears, I decided to write my own Screwtape Letter for teachers. And, of course, I highly recommend reading the original by CS Lewis, a writer whose ability far surpasses mine. Enjoy!

classroom

__________________________________________

My dear Wormwood,

I am pleased with how ardently you have been pursuing the damnation of our patient. However, I warn you against over confidence in your technique. Our work with a teacher is never done, as this profession can yield self-loathing one day and satisfaction the next.

In your last letter, you described a treacherous instance with a student as a “small victory.” You failed to recognize the Enemy’s ability to rally our patient behind a cause. While the teacher is currently perturbed by his discussion with this child, he could, very well, take the poor soul under his wing as a “project.” If this endeavor is successful, it will reaffirm this career as the patient’s “calling.” Whatever happens, do not allow the teacher to be reminded of why he chose this profession. Focus his attention on the prestige of his non-teaching companions, their larger homes, and their nicer cars. Weaponize his drive to provide for his family, causing him to feel guilt over their lack of expensive possessions. Make him question the sensibility of his career path on a daily basis. Remind him that he has other valuable, more profitable, skills going to waste. The trick is to keep the mindset that this work is beneath him while convincing him that he is worthless in the lives of his students.

Let him believe, whole heartedly, that each instance of misbehavior from a child is a direct reflection on his abilities as an educator. Allow this to distance him from the students. Compel him to stay behind his desk as often as possible to avoid excessive interaction. Distract him from the everyday joys of his students by burying him under paperwork, grading, and conferences. Convince him that the only way to find eventual rest is to burn his lamp late into the night. Get him into the habit of sacrificing an abundance of family time for the job. When his wife begs him to come to bed, fill him with resentment toward her. Make him envious of her sleep.

A thoroughly exhausted patient is more likely to succumb to the effects of mental illness. During moments of solitude, allow the teacher to feel waves of anxiety. A cycle of exhaustion induced anxiety and anxiety induced exhaustion is ideal. Wake him up at night with fears of false accusations from his female students, poor test scores, school shooters, and financial distress. In sleep deprivation, even the most irrational fear is easy to instill.

I find your stories from the teacher workroom to be quite riveting. The grumbling nature of his coworkers has worked in our favor from the beginning. I worry, though, that our patient may eventually overhear a success story from a fellow teacher, or worse yet, something comical. Avoid instances where our patient may feel comradery with his workmates. This can result in him feeling comfortable and at ease in the school building. Our goal is to fill him with dread and despair on his drive to school. Isolate him from adults throughout the day. Have him watching the clock and counting the minutes until 3 p.m.

Once the patient makes it home, let him be continually overwhelmed by the problems he encountered during the day. Don’t let him escape from the stress of his job. If a peaceful moment arises, bring an abused or a suicidal student to his mind. Remind him of the bully in his class who’s been relentlessly harassing the other kids. The voices and the needs of his students should haunt him. Gradually, over time, anxiety will evolve into apathy. When this occurs, push numbers to the forefront of his mind so that all he thinks about are his students’ scores, the pitiful amount on his paycheck, and the number of school days left. Use apathy to terminate the teacher’s career in the school whether by choice or administrative action. This, Wormwood, would be an excellent triumph.

Over the years, we have snatched up many teachers simply by instilling restlessness followed by a feeling of entrapment in the career. You are well on your way to success but be mindful of the following: The qualities which made our patient ideal for teaching were created and implanted by the Enemy. Compassion, patience, creativity, and a desire to help others still lurk under the surface, deep within the teacher’s soul. Should these qualities awaken, it would be an embarrassing setback. The Enemy will use even the smallest glimmer of positivity to reassure the patient that he is making a difference in the world and that he is valuable to Kingdom, even in a classroom. A whisper of encouragement could be detrimental. We mustn’t let the deep love the enemy has for our patient become apparent or it will reestablish the teacher’s purpose in life; our work would be undone. I trust that you will diligently oversee these matters and continue to press on toward the demise of the teacher. My colleague, Glubose, has been quite impressed with your progress. We look forward to your next letter as the school year trudges on.

Your affectionate uncle,
Screwtape

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