Clay Burrell's blog resonates--every time I find myself bumping up against a thought of his, I take it seriously, and occasionally even modify my behavior, a big deal for someone in their fifth decade.
Mr. Burrell has taken edubloggers to task for sticking their heads in the sand as the world burns (see "What Crisis? Edublogging as Rome burns"). I am not going to disagree with him on the fact that Rome is clearly burning. My question is what do we, as teachers, do about it?
So how many education bloggers show the slightest indication, on their blogs, that they find addressing these crises worth “suspending their edublogging campaigns”?
Answer: a whopping 17 - out of the 130 blogs with over 600 posts on Alltop’s education page.
I am going to post my response to his blog here. Yes, it's a cheap way to post an entry, and an even cheaper way to see if anyone is reading my words. Still, I take teaching seriously, and it's an interesting question.
Rome’s been burning for awhile, now. I’m guessing my last comment suggesting that you keep sharing thoughts on Gilgamesh for me (and Nero) to enjoy did not fly.
Anyone who pays any attention to history, to politics, to our society can see what’s been going on–and it has been going on for several decades now.
My daughter was beaten by a police officer back in October, 2001. She was jailed. Officers had badge numbers covered up. She was in a peaceable assembly protesting the Bush administration’s plan to bomb people who had nothing to do with 9/11.
Thursday at lunch, one teacher said that voting for a Democrat is akin to inviting terrorists to bomb the US. [Another teacher suggested that perhaps Saddam should not have hung alone, mentioning the leader of a country dear to me hang with him.]
I read Naomi Wolf’s words years ago, and they rang true. I kid about my tinfoil hat, but these are troubled times. In the classroom, I (attempt to) teach children how to think critically. My own views do not (or should not) matter.
I have faith that if I teach children how to think, they will reach reasonable, humane, and (dare I say it?) loving answers to the ills around us.
I hold a position that wields tremendous power over other clans’ children (loco parentis is a big deal to me)–if I espouse my positions publicly, it betrays my faith in the rational approach, and undermines what I am trying to do.
I am not saying we should not be screaming from the rooftops, though it is a shame that we are such a nation of sheep, blind sheep at that, that only the loudest get heard.
I am saying, though, that once I start screaming from the rooftops in an edublog forum, I am betraying my trust in the ability of a republic to educate its children.
(Not that I am not almost there already–but if I give up my faith that humans can think and love, and that we can teach humans how to think and love better, then I am not only giving up on my livelihood, I am giving up on life.)
I do scream and shout, just not in the ed world. If you ever visit my classroom, you’ll hear some very interesting things from children once they are allowed to think on their own. You will hear views contrary to my own, but that are on their way to being reasonable.
I had a very engaging months/years long on-line discussion with a brilliant young man studying at Oxford, a man who held some views obviously pushed on him. We disagreed on just about everything political, but I told him that given his mind, he and I would be much closer to agreeing on things as he got older than he knew.
And, years later, the transition has been startling to some, but not to me.