*The receipt for my sister's cremation.
*A rejection letter from the Paris Review back in 1982 with the encouragement to send more words. (It was my first and only fiction submitted anywhere--an encouraging letter from a favorite literary magazine was enough.)
*An envelope with a picture of Mother Theresa and the Pope inside, with George Carlin's home number scrawled on the outside in my mom's handwriting. All four are dead now--I think I'll hold on to this.
*My old beat up code cards I used to stuff in my pocket on the way to moonlighting in an inner-city medical center, cards I used several times. More than once I regretted that they worked--severely brain-damaged children are hardly miracles.
And on and on, funeral cards and christening announcements, of little interest beyond my clan.
I had planned to post a list today--a snazzy (or at least snarky) Roll of Hubris, topped by the madness deep below the ground, the Large Hadron Collider, which remains broken.
And plowing through the paper reminds me of my own--feigning immortality despite all the evidence to the contrary.
Our students are mortal, too. We use up a lot of their time pushing them through a system that judges them by how well they test. We use up a lot of their time preparing them for an environment that requires staying on task even when the point of the task no longer matters.
So here's my New Year's resolution: recognize my students' mortality. I am taking a piece of time in their finite lives. I'd better make good use of it.
Every task I require of my students should hold value, a value I can articulate, a value beyond "to get you ready for the next year" or "to get you ready for the High School Proficiency Assessment."
If it's something of questionable value but required by the curriculum, I will not hesitate to share my doubts, and I will work to get the curriculum changed.
Yep, I know, I know, you do this anyway. I also know that we are agents of the state, and are required to teach a specific curriculum. I am not challenging that--I am free to go work in a private venture if I want to thrust some megalomaniacal value system on my charges.
I'm talking about the day to day small stuff that rewards children's persistence but not their curiosity, that rewards performance over mastery.
What are we doing here?