Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Know your place

I once knew an educated lady, banded by Phi Beta Kappa, who told me that she had never heard or seen the geese that twice a year proclaim the revolving seasons to her well-insulated roof. Is education possibly a process of trading awareness for things of lesser worth?

Aldo Leopold, 1949

Sand County Almanac
I caught a few fluke today. I picked a few beans. I saw jellyfish under my paddle, black-backed gulls over it.

The yellowlegs are already heading south for the winter--the sun blazed today, but not quite as long as yesterday. The days are shortening.

And in September I'll have over a hundred kids who know nothing, who have been trained to know nothing, and most will know nothing when they leave.
They take biology because the state says they must, if they plan to graduate.
They take biology because that's what follows physical science.
They take biology because it's what sophomores are expected to do.

I teach biology because I, even (or especially) as I age, marveling more each moment I breathe. I am drunk in July with sunshine and sea water, staggering around the garden in the late hot sun, trying to see every creature I can see.

I have never regretted a minute under the open sky. (Oh, I've regretted stepping on bees, getting caught in storms, swimming through jellyfish, but never being outside.) You cannot teach biology under fluorescent lights.

What am I doing? What are any of us doing?

That's Leslie a couple of evenings ago--we play a lot on the bay.
We all need to play. even high school sophomores.
Especially high school sophomores.


Barry Bachenheimer said...

I read and feel your frustration with the anomoly that is public education. The notion of school as it is constructed is in direct opposition to the favored way we learn. (On a related note, give this blog post a read, you'll love it: http://eduspaces.net/csessums/weblog/956403.html)

With that being said, I see three choices available:
1. Teach in an alternative school/outdoor education place.
2. Change our system from the inside; marginal moves over a long term at best
3. Blog about it to vent, and go back to the flourescent lights in September. (Not being flip, just that I use my blog to vent frustrations too sometimes)

Enjoy the open sky and thanks for sharing your passion for it!

doyle said...

Dear Barry,

I have an opportunity to do things differently this fall, a lucky alignment of the stars:

i) We're switching over to Understanding By Design--I get that education philosophies come and go, and that more veteran teachers see this as yet another layer of lipstick on the same ol' pig, but I am running with it.

ii) I work for the greatest supervisor EVAH!!! She lets us try new things as long as we assess what we're doing and adjust as needed. ("Monitor and adjust" may be our mantra.) Even more important, when I get waaaay off-track, she has no problem getting me back in line, which (ironically) gives me more freedom to try new things--she's got my back.

iii) I got a nice grant recently--we're going to 1:1 netbooks in my room--every day, every period. I expect it to change my classroom dramatically if I have the courage to do this right. My posts, I hope, will help me gird my loins, so to speak.

So I'm taking your option 2 but pushing it a bit. Option 1 would be selfish on my part--I live in this town, it's my district, they're my fellow citizens.