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Philosophical Meanderings, School Stories

Drowning as an Educator or Finding the Surface

Originally and reluctantly posted at educatedtodeath.com

Over the past few weeks I’ve struggled with my problem with top down models of education. I attempted to allow the thought “this is for the greater good” into my mind. I tried to hold it in my mind and make it fit. It only made me sick the way the body rejects foreign objects. I’ve labored over the necessity of my concern. Will contemplation of this directly benefit my students? Will it benefit me? Or should I simply give in and follow orders in order to be at peace? If I can’t fall in like with the system perhaps I should quit? Is resistance futile?

I’ve also questioned the purpose of writing and publishing these internal quarrels. Do I write to benefit others? Am I simply an exhibitionist? Am I writing so someone, anyone, will hear my cry as my ship sinks slowly? Am I looking for a rescue? Support? Perhaps I’m planting a revolutionary seed that will grow beyond my imagination? I hope all of the above are true. That is for you who finds this message in a bottle to decide.

But, back to my original aim and/or question: should I resist or acquiesce? Certainly, if you are familiar with me or my rantings and raving you know that acquiescence is not an option. Compromise is a possibility and is best, but is not always possible. I have to also wonder if my rantings are spur me, or someone, on to action or am I merely bitching. If my reflection does not lead to action it is nothing more than mental and rhetorical masturbation which is the utmost waste of time and energy.

So, has my worry recently been of use to me? I think so. It’s helped me to understand where I am and what I’m doing professionally and personally. I’ve certainly lost sight of why I teach for a stint. My focus has shifted from the students to pleasing evaluators and jumping through hoops. I’ve tried to keep the devil off my back, and in doing so I’ve forgotten the world of which I’m a part. I’ve simply lost sight of anything. I can only compare to the panic that occurs when one believes they are drowning. The only fight is for life. I’ve been in that fight as a teacher. I’ve spoken of that fight theoretically, but no matter how much we practice or reaction to drowning there is no comparison to the real thing.

I’m fighting to regain footing to I can teach what I know is best. I am a mediator between curriculum that is prescribed, which is not necessarily to be rejected, the curriculum that is needed, and the human beings that are, or should be the recipients of what will be taught. I think I’ve found the life vest. It’s time to move forward. It’s time to teach, and resist, and voice my dissent. It’s time to reconnect. Thank you for your constant support, dear reader. May my confusion ever be of some benefit to someone.

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About educatedtodeath

educatedtodeath is a teacher, advocate, and activist and keeper of educatedtodeath.com

Discussion

3 thoughts on “Drowning as an Educator or Finding the Surface

  1. bravo. thanks for your courage

    Posted by kelly | November 26, 2012, 6:42 pm
  2. I admire your courage to speak your truth in the face of so much upheaval and discontent. You are where I was in the summer of 2011, that fateful period of time following the “rollout” of the blasted Common ‘Bore’ Curriculum by the district. Every teacher was given a half day on the Friday before the last day of school in that May, to attend the big
    announcement about our state of AZ complying with the initiative//mandate to move forward in participating in RTTT (Race to Nowhere) and implementing the CCSSs. Mind you, it was a gathering of weary teachers, completely unaware of what was coming, blindsided with fancy jargon like ‘rigor’ and ‘no excuses’ and, though never said outloud, ‘You all have failed miserably and we are here to tell you all about the magic elixir that you are gonna just love!’ mantra. Within 10 minutes, my outrage was palpable. The day after school was out, I called and made appointments with every single official all the way to the top elected State Superintendent who agreed to meet with me to discuss educatioin through the lens of a veteran teacher. I met with 6 out of 10. I ranted, raged and spoke from the heart, ultimately making the district super tear up at my passion. I begged everyone to be patient in rolling out the CCSSs, take our time, respect teachers and parents and students enough to gently walk the path of change. After 10 years of NCLB, most of us teachers were worn out, disheartened and overwhelmed already…to add this next heavy layer might tip us over to the land of no return. Did they take my advice? Nope. I retired, this past May with the satisfaction that I had done all I could and proud that I had done so, for now I can be assured of one thing. No matter how things turn out, having stood up for my principles and beliefs, taking my passion for teaching to every person who would listen, I can sit here tonight knowing it was the right thing to do. For those still in the trenches…never give up. This, too, shall pass. I’ve seen it many times. That pendulum is always in motion. Teach to the students and let the rest go. Do not be distracted by nonsense. You will be glad you wore blinders when this insanity is over. Trust me. It’s all about the learner, never about the pundits who undermine you as a professional. If you can’t take the heat, get out. Stay. You’ll be glad you did. The kids depend on it.

    Posted by Sandy | November 26, 2012, 9:28 pm

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: Drowning as an Educator or Finding the Surface « geniusstorm - December 3, 2012

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