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Learning at its Best

Still waiting…

Still Waiting…

 

   I am still waiting for that large, sweeping legislation in the house, senate, and presidency in regards to progressive education.  It is ironic that I will post something on Facebook in regards to education and get “likes” both from my most conservative and liberal friends.  Education is something that internally, I believe many of us understand.  We get it emotionally and we are able to connect to that part of learning, that relationship part of learning.  However, we are so fearful to take the big step, to recognize that education is fundamentally broken in the United States and needs drastic overhauls.  I’m still waiting, for that collective recognition.

    I relate it somewhat to health care.  Even with the Supreme Court upholding the health care bill, we still move slowly towards a system that would give all citizens preventive care and health services at a reasonable price.  Why we still hold onto an employee-only based system, which while good when it was concocted by unions a hundred years ago, it surely is out dated and does not represent the complex society we live in today.  So why do we do the same thing with education?  Does anybody actually believe that the type of repetition style tactics still work in a global, innovating, rapidly progressing society?  I’m still waiting, for us to progress into the 21st century. 

   And yet, at the same time, I cannot help but to feel compelled to represent and speak out for a continued “small school” movement and localized improvement.  The old slogan is right, “think globally, act locally,” the problem with that quote is, the actions locally seem to move the needle far too slightly globally.  I’m still waiting, for educators and activists to act both locally and globally. 

  I really am unsure, even at my tender age of 28, if I will ever see truly transformational changes to the United States education system.  There are moments where I believe it is undeniable and will happen (usually these happen in the presence of those who are like-minded as myself), and then there are the other moments, the ones that make me question whether it is even worth all of the hassle.  This is why I cannot seem to fully embrace the system, relegating myself to the fact that I can make changes in the lives of individuals in whom I encounter but will always see a broken system that does more harm than good.  Or, I cannot seem to fully become radical, a revolutionist as it were, asking for us to blow up everything and start from scratch, mostly because I seem far too conventional in my personality to simply say “fuck it!”  So I guess, I’m still waiting, to fully understand where I fit in with this big fat mess that we call learning.   

   Maybe I am not supposed to fully know; maybe that is the point to all of this.  The journey will play itself out, and perhaps it is time that I fully embrace the unknown and be at peace with that unresolved pit in my stomach.  Of course, once I try to do this, I feel myself becoming lethargic, uninspired and far too compromised.  The ultimate questions always seem to remain unanswered and I do not know if the point to all of this is grow in patience, to act in vengeance or something in between.  All I know is that I’m still waiting, hoping and praying, that somehow the system or myself, will work itself out. 

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About caseykcaronna

A 27 year old Master of Arts in Education Degree holder from the progressive, liberal arts school, Goddard College. I am interested in Holistic, Community, Progressive, Democratic and Student-Centered Education. I am currently a part-time employee with the Boy Scouts of America. I am writing my first book on holistic education and looking for full time employment in education, throughout the United States and Canada. I am interested in all things education and hope to make trans-formative changes to the educational system(s) in America and in the process help to improve the lives of the individuals in whom it serves.

Discussion

7 thoughts on “Still waiting…

  1. Thanks for the reminder of the quote. I think the global thinking is represented in the broad standards coming forward. While our elected officials would argue for the educational legislation being “handled” like the partisan political football that is the coin of the rhelm these days, to me, it’s best to work around mandates that arise from such insane efforts.

    I am in total agreement with your plea for local action. Indeed, I have written about what I have been calling EDUCATION COMMUNITIES. These LOCAL groups of engaged citizens (teachers, administrators, parents, students, organization representatives, individuals with appropriate expertise, and interested citizens) voluntarily come together to identify and understand local educational issues. Subsequently, these groups develop, implement, assess, and refine efforts to address those issues. The idea is that local groups can identify the local issues and be best able to deal with them.

    There is place for national mandates NO MATTER HOW WELL INTENTIONED THEY ARE – for one clearness and obvious reason: There ARE local issues that must be addressed to improve effective learning for all! It would be ideal if the national mandate was to seek local solutions – with nationally supplied resources made available and with national clearing houses of local successes and failures informing those local actions. (Of course, the national politicians – and even more to the point, their controlling lobbyists and venture philanthropists – cannot keep from interfering with sweeping mandates that ignore local issues.) In actual fact, initially at least, local groups will most certainly have to ignor the national mandates! With the successes that will happen, how can the politicians argue? Eventually they will see this local action is the key.

    Do I know or even believe this is the optimum approach? Of course not; I believe myself to be informed but the local Education Committee will be even better informed. Given the opportunity, they will find the BETTER ALTERNATIVE (accepted as better by each party involved than the one that party championed at the start of effort). Fortunately, Stephen Covey’s latest book, “The 3rd Alternative: Solving Life’s Most Difficult Problems,” offers guidance in these efforts!

    Posted by John Bennett | July 4, 2012, 9:48 am
  2. Hey Casey, I love the sentiment and I can find myself in this place of frustration too. But dude, waiting is way too passive a verb for what you’re doing. To “wait” is to remain, rest, stop, halt; linger, loiter, dally; stick around, hang out, hang around, kill time, waste time, kick one’s heels, twiddle one’s thumbs. This is not what you’re doing.

    You, my friend are doing all you can to “be the change”. You are studying, exploring, writing, exposing, transforming, hunting, seeking. Dude, you are traveling to conferences, speaking out against injustice, organizing. You are not simply “waiting.”

    Do you know in Dr. Suess’ Oh the Places You’ll Go, the “waiting place?” Suess tells us, we’ll all end up there at some point, but man, that place sucks. Everyone is just sitting around waiting. Don’t wallow there. It’s depressing. And besides, as Suess says, you’ve got brains in your head and shoes on your feet. And that is no place for someone as brainy and footsy as you…(Okay, but he makes that rhyme somehow)

    I give you my permission to pause, reflect, breathe, meditate, and visualize for a moment. Then get your butt back to work and change the world!

    With love and respect, brother. Paul

    Posted by Paul Freedman | July 5, 2012, 9:51 am
    • Hi Paul,
      Thanks for your comment and your reminder both of Dr. Suess and his infinite wisdom and the fact that the language we use is sometimes disconnect to our meaning or doing, if you will. However, I do believe it extends further than simply taking out a moment to reflect and then getting back to work. I’ve heard this described to me, about me and about others from many other progressive educators many times, but the point of my post was to go deeper into the idea about what we can control in education, what we cannot and how we personally wrestle with these ideas, while also trying to find out who we are individually, and how we become better.

      I would say that public school teachers work their ass of daily, most of them trying to better their classroom, their students and themselves. In so doing, they are making strives in individuals lives and creating growth in themselves, but the system still very much remains in tact. It is not just about working hard, it is also about figuring out how is the best way to be productive, both in trying to change the world, but I believe even more importantly, in trying to change ourselves. There are plenty of hardworking people who accomplish very little in the grand scale, does this make their work fruitless? No, but it certainly makes your reconsider where one’s energy is best put to use.

      Furthermore, I am not sure if it is specific to my generation or not, but there seems to be this holding pattern that is existing. Whether this is because of the economy, or because we are on the edge of either transforming education or going over its cliff, but something feels both in motion and at a stand still, simultaneously energizing and deflating twenty-somethings through the changes taking place.

      My father always said, ‘work smart, not hard,’ now this phraseology could be considered a cop-out for being lazy, cynical, or ineffective, but my father is none of these things. So what I actually believe it means is to find out where one can be most effective and be smart about decisions, rather than spinning one’s wheels hoping to finally dig out of that hole in the mud. I would rather be apart of one big change (or maybe none at all, if it remains holding on to who I am and what I believe) than to have this Americana idea of hard work leading to a better change in society. Quality over Quantity I suppose. This does not mean I am not willing or ready to work hard, but that one must do so for the right reasons and the smart reasons, rather than just because that is what we are supposed to do.

      I, and I believe many other progressive educators, are slowly trying to carve out our niche in this rapidly changing world, hoping to both become better educators, better citizens of the world and hopefully transform it in some small manner. So by understanding this contextually,waiting probably is not the right term, but possibly a collective synergy taking place, ready to explode but not completely sure in all the directions we will travel.

      Posted by caseykcaronna | July 5, 2012, 12:56 pm
      • Hey Casey,

        I hear you. I didn’t mean to offer pejorative commentary. I know that the frustration, impatience and sense of hopelessness for any contemporary activist can be profound and debilitating. I guess I’m just urging all of us who are making efforts to act locally give ourselves a bit of a break. The system is huge, entrenched, and will not easily give up its position of power and omnipotence. It seems every bit as impregnable as did the Berlin wall on the day before it fell.

        Remember, as Ron Miller says, this is a self-organizing revolution. Consciousness evolution and paradigm shift does not happen as a reaction to specific acts. It is often imperceptibly slow, and yet just as real as the rising sea level as millenia-old ice sheets melt drop by drop. And one day the polar bears are simply out of ice floes and are swimming for their lives, while coastal cities have been drowned. And everyone is shocked and surprised.

        I love your last paragraph in your comment to me. What we can do, perhaps all we can do is to “become better educators” help to transform individual lives and perceptions. And yes, trust that something “collective” and “explosive” is gathering energy. And no, it may not happen in our lifetimes. And although that’s sad for us individually, we continue to play every bit as much of a vital role in creating the change as those who will be lucky enough to see and experience the other side of the revolution. The little zooplankton drifting on a huge wave, can’t know when that wave, that has been traveling hundreds of miles, will finally crest and break. And millions will live and die and never see it happen. It all looks and feels like one unending monolithic sea. But rest assured, there is movement, and the momentum of which we are a part, is massive and powerful.

        (Too many metaphors, sorry. Must be summer :-)

        Stay Cool.

        Paul

        Posted by Paul Freedman | July 5, 2012, 1:52 pm
  3. Tim –

    At this point, my writings about what I’m calling local EDUCATION COMMUNITIES appear mostly in comments to blog postings – for example, by Walt Gardner and Peter DeWitt of Education Week and by John Merrow of Learning Matters. Details on the BETTER ALTERNATIVE and EFFECTIVE LEARNING can be found on my “stalled” (some reads but no comments / dialogue) blog attempt (drbslearningsolutions.blogspot.com). I am in the process of writing more complete and direct pieces on Education Communities – but they have not been published as yet. Thanks for your interest; please contact me at jcbjr@engr.uconn.edu for more direct dialogue if you wish.

    Posted by John Bennett | July 6, 2012, 9:48 am

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