So yesterday I was talking about how entitling this blog "Teacher Trenches" is an ironic nod (to whom, I'm not sure... do I even have any readers yet?), since I think teaching high school is actually pretty gratifying and not at all what I assume life in a trench would be like. But since I don't really know for sure, I decided to do some preliminary research about the Allied forces who gutted it out in trenches during World War I. Here's what I found...
As I suspected, the whole "in the trenches" metaphor is not only rather extreme but also unfair to those who, you know, fought in actual trenches. For one thing, in addition to fighting the enemy, soldiers also had to fight the animals, the ones that made their homes in the trenches—frogs and beetles and, especially, rats, millions of them, some the size of small dogs, that would spread infection and contaminate food and eat out the soldiers’ eyes as they slept.
Next, walking around in cold and muddy water all the time often led to “trenchfoot,” a fungal infection that sometimes required amputation—a frightening possibility, but I bet most soldiers were sufficiently distracted by the lice that caused their whole body to itch to concentrate just on their feet.
Finally, soldiers in the trenches had to contend with the disgusting, overwhelming smell, of poisonous gas and overflowing latrines and body odor and cigarette smoke and rotting corpses of fallen comrades barely buried in makeshift graves. And did I mention, on top of all this, they're also getting shot at?
Man, cafeteria duty doesn't look so bad now, does it?
So, yeah... when you compare the metaphorical trenches of education with the actual trenches of war, the metaphorical ones end up looking rather swell. At the very least, a high school teacher's risk of trenchfoot, statistically speaking, is probably pretty low.