I lifted up it gill cover, then sliced at the gill arch with my knife. A fine stream of blood shot a couple of feet into the air, staining my shorts with blood the same deep red color as my own.
My daughter and I filleted the fish together 3 hours later, celebrating life, mourning death. Then we feasted.
I showed the picture of my daughter holding the fish to a fellow teacher--"looks like she can take care of herself" was her reply.
Yesterday we had a memo from the state of New Jersey waxing eloquent on the needs of the 21st century, on the need to prepare a child (the same child) for vocational school, college, and careers. I wondered how many folks on that committee ever saw the arc of blood pumping out of a dying animal.
I've seen it in fish, I've seen it in humans.
In 1714, back when Ben Franklin was still a wee lad, Stephen Hale tapped the artery of a horse to measure its pressure--Hale was immortalized, but the horse, of course, died.
We all eventually follow the horse.
I am not suggesting that someone needs to watch the arc of blood shoot out of a dying beast in order to qualify for whatever committee comes up with standards like this:
Work in collaboration with peers and experts in the field to develop a product using the design process, data analysis, and trends, and maintain a digital log with annotated sketches to record the development cycle.I am suggesting, though, that someone who has even a twinkle of an idea connecting this thing called life to a curriculum worth the attention of child, someone who knows that food is not just a bag of Doritos, someone with a sense of what matters beyond a corporate board room might see the above standard as, well, ridiculous.
A committee of well-educated professionals thought it was inspiring.
Maybe we need a different committee. Maybe a degree that gains you entrance into powerful committees but blinds you to the obvious does not deserve respect.
A degree will get you into some boardrooms, and it might even get you some cash if the current economic shenanigans don't end with the hunter-gatherers among us superseding the white-collared executives.
We don't need more folks with college degrees on these committees--we need folks with knowledge.
Here are my minimum requirements for participating on any committee that makes any rules directly affecting the lives of our lambs dragged into our schools under the threat of law:
1) You must know how to change a tire, replace a faucet washer, or do any of myriad chores "relegated" to blue collar workers. Doing any these things for a living should make you chair of the committee. If you cannot take care of minor day-to-day maintenance, you have no business telling me how to teach.
2) You must know how to grow food. Outside. In dirt. Reading a book on how to do this counts for nothing. Books matter because they help us live. They become poison when they replace living.
3) If you eat meat, you must have slaughtered an animal that you ate. If you drink water, you must drink from an outside source--a spring, a creek, rainwater in a cistern--at least once a year. If you shit, you must shit in the woods in a mindful way. (No, I' m not talking about spiritual ommmmm and a prayer nonsense--I'm talking about knowing how far from the water, how deep in the soil to do your business so you do not foul your nest.)
4) You must have taught in a school within the last 5 years. This one is negotiable, but somewhere along the way you need to have a clue what can work, and what will not work, in a classroom.
5) You must be a parent. This one is negotiable, but somewhere along the way you need to have a clue what a child can, and cannot, do.
Some of the current standards in New Jersey are laughable.
What the standards do to kids, however, is not.