Hyp•o•crite (noun)


1. A person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings

  • The hypocrite complained about lack of voter turn-out, but neglected to cast his vote.

            Synonyms: Phony, Two-faced, Imposter

            Antonyms: Upright, Trustworthy, Candid

Hypocrite was on our vocabulary list last week in sixth grade Language Arts. Along with nineteen other words, we said the definition aloud every day. We made up sentences, some serious and some ironic. We tried to use hypocrite in normal conversation. After a week of such focus, it dawned on me yesterday afternoon that I am a hypocrite.

Let me explain. Last week, my seventh graders had a homework assignment due. True to form, I had several students not turn it in. Excuses: I had a basketball game; My family went out to dinner; I had to watch my little brother. True to form, I talked about responsibility and how we all have the same amount of hours in every day. We choose what to do with those hours and how to use them, etc., etc., etc.

On Tuesday, while writing with my eighth grade students, I helped a boy who was story-stuck. He faced a blank screen and a blinking curser. He couldn’t think of a plot. He couldn’t think of an interesting character. His curser blinked. He said he wanted to write something important. Something real, but not real. Not something about himself, but something true to life. I asked him to think about emotions, powerful feelings. He sat for several minutes. His curser blinked. When he came to my desk, he told me he wanted to write about anger, resentment and frustration. With that realization voiced, his blinking curser began to move.

So yesterday afternoon, after a busy weekend of errands, housework and obligations, I found myself feeling sorry for my poor, neglected novel. It would be collecting dust, if that were possible inside a flash drive. Why don’t I write regularly? Because I’m busy, busy, busy. Also, the blinking curser scares me. I feel lost.

I am a hypocrite. The things I say to my students are real and true, helpful even. But to be honest and real with them, I need to learn to take my own advice.