Friday, March 5, 2010

Hey, teach....

I went to a conference this week--the state wants to teach me how to align my curriculum to the end of course biology exam.

It's easy to get lost in what's expected by the Feds, by the state, by the local BOE. It's easy to complain. It's easy to find a chorus of toads croaking about this or that injustice, a chorus that welcomes you to join the noise.

Ribbit, ribbit, ribbit....

Sean Nash inspires me. Today he challenged his readers to remind others how to see beyond the crocodiles. (Forgive me, Sean, for butchering your metaphor.)

You know what I got to do today? I got to talk to young adults about science. I got to pick their brains, and they picked mine.

I ate basil grown in my classroom.

I dragged a human skeleton through the hallways, eliciting the usual stupid jokes.

I helped a student teacher become even better than she already is.

I found a rattlesnake bean in our classroom, cultivated by a student who grew up in an urban town. He planted it in November. It grew, using our breath to make the stuff we can now eat. Communion.

I got to sing, to teach, to dance, to play, and I got paid to do this.

Teaching is hard, I get this, but teaching can be as rewarding as saving lives.
Trust me. I'm a doctor. And now, a teacher.

If you do not like teaching, get out. The rest, the stuff that happens outside the classroom walls, well, it's just noise. Treat it as such.

John Spencer wrote a gentle (and accurate) criticism of the post,
one worth reading in the comments.


John Spencer said...

I'm one of the people outside making the "noise." Teachers are civic servants and that means we serve our students - not just in the classroom, but as advocates outside. Pointing out the injustice of a system has its time and place, especially when it affects whether or not my school will be open next year.

Singing a chorus is powerful. Slaves did it. Civil rights marchers did it. Apartheid fighters did it, too. Sometimes we need to join in the chorus.

The outside noise from the educrats can be the sound of death and if it becomes, simply white noise, then we are like the Pharisee crossing the road to do our sacred duties and missing the one who has been beat up.

There are people who want to turn our schools into something really ugly. There are people who want to sell my children's minds to the highest bidder. I call it intellectual prostitution and I take it really serious.

The problem I see (that you bring up really well here) is that if I get too riled up by all of it, I miss the beauty happening in my own classroom walls.

doyle said...

Dear John,

I need to choose my words more carefully.

Organized, thoughtful work towards serving our children is like a symphony. Complaining about the profession in the faculty lounge simply to hear the sound of your own ribbit is like a fart.

The former energizes, creates powerful choruses, forges great alliances. Even when just movements fail (and there are many alive people from "dead" cultures that will testify that failure's possible), life becomes more meaningful because of the fight.

The latter? Cynicism has no place in life for the living, especially for those who choose to work with children. If you do not enjoy teaching, get out.

I tend to toss thoughts out on the blog forgetting, at times, that most folks who wander over do not know me well, and cannot hear the conversation in my head. Leslie, of course, knows me as well as anyone, and sometimes I'll startle her with a random conversation I started 15 minutes ago in my head.

Your points are well taken, and I hope folks take a good look at your words here and on your site.