by Samantha Garcia (sophomore)
He spoke with an eloquence of connection that isn’t often seen in the halls of Senn High School. He relates with students on a personal level and on current events, keeping smiles and laughter in the faces of every student who travels through his classes.
He is Mr. Bateman.
Benjamin Bateman is a social studies and US History teacher across several grades who takes academia very seriously.
As a teenager, however, he was very much like the students you see cruising these locker-lined halls.
“I would say I had a healthy rejection of authority and I was trying to explore in my own way. And so therefore I felt like: ‘well, I’m not doing anything illegal, so I can’t get in trouble.’ And so I would push the boundaries of what was appropriate and inappropriate and, not with profanity and things like that but just trying to–I thought I was a smart kid, I suppose, after junior year, and so I would challenge the system and see you know what the…the rationale behind things [was].”
Aside from sharing characteristics of many of the students attending Senn, Bateman had a conceptual lifestyle in which he surrendered himself to the world around him.
“There’s a summer, where I, I remember I was very, in the mindset of–and this is very off the topic but it–I think its relatively pertinent, is that there is this summer where I had this whole intention of, simply, just kind of…existing, if that makes sense; where I wouldn’t try to find fun, but I would just kind of go, and fun would find me.”
He described how he would go on walks and allow an event or thing simply happen to him, embracing the change and embracing the flow of the in-the-moment action that so many of us thrive to experience.
Much like how he teaches his students currently, Bateman also relentlessly absorbed lectures.
“The teacher I had was an AP US History teacher, and I remember all he would do was lecture and lecture, and I loved it. It was so good, it was the best experience, and everyday–I remember distinctly he would use this chalkboard, and he would just write down key terms and I would just take notes and I’m left-handed so my whole arm would be like full of the graphite. …I know that I had peers that didn’t enjoy it but I really loved it.”
On another note, Bateman relays more summer memories from his youth, revealing that he was of the outgoing variety.
“I remember I was tie-dying a lot, like listening to music on–in the backyard tie-dying, and I think that’s when my parent started to think there was like: ‘Oh, something going crazy.’”
However, as all of the students at Senn will one day realize, Bateman grew up.
“I would say the…there was a point in time–and this is kind of I suppose in college, even perhaps around that time–that I started to think about what I was going to do with my life. I realized, that I had a lot of, goals, that required me to, kind of…not ‘play the game’ per se, but I had to–I couldn’t–I was very messy, as, a teen, my room was trashed. I remember–I think my, my mattress was on like the floor, and it looked like I was, you know, squatting, in my room, and I–like I loved it, it was perfect; it was everything I wanted, and it was fine. I’m sure it was–again I can’t imagine what, what it must’ve looked like from the outside but at the time I was super happy with it.
“Then I started to realize that I had, like goals, and I had an idea that I wanted a family; and I wanted to give my family the same opportunities that I had, and that was a huge x-factor [in the decision to leave his youth behind].”
He really gave this a lot of thought.—
“And so then I was…supposed to do those things for my [family]–again this is, I don’t know 18 year old, 20 year old, 22 year old me, thinking about: well, I wanna have–if I’m going to have, you know a family, I want to make sure that my kids, have, you know, food and, all the choices I had.”
Bateman went on to elaborate how based on the sacrifices his parents made to raise him, he would have to follow in those guided steps in order to achieve a comfortable childhood for his children in which he experienced.
Connecting his teen passion to these adult requirements, Bateman pursued teaching; for both history and film.
We then spoke about how it felt to reminisce all of his memories and life choices.
“I like it. I think, I think in this, in this interview, you’re seeing a taste of, that stream of consciousness. And I think, I think it’s available in the way I teach as well. There…there’s an arena, that is very rigid and set up. But in that arena, it is extremely fluid, and I think [it’s] the same kind of way, that we are talking right now. And I think reflecting on, who I am now versus what I was in the past, I think it—it’s the same person just different, different traits have been accentuated. And it’s not to say that others have gone dormant or no longer there, it’s just simply, there’s not necessarily an avenue—it doesn’t help me as a teacher to, you know…be the high school self.”
Now you know him; the boy who tie-dyed t-shirts with music in his backyard, the boy who engaged in zen on summer walks, and the teacher that so many students love to listen to.
This is Mr. Bateman.