Thursday, June 7, 2012

Good is not good enough

I'm in a dangerous place, not unusual for June, when light exposes our frailties and conceits.

I love the idea of public school, but I fear what it produces now. And it's going to get worse.

Tomorrow I will lead my merrie band to the beach--they will be reminded that the world is much bigger, much more complex, far more beautiful than anything created by humans alone.
  • A few now know where food comes from, but most still do not.
  • A few now know how tenuous our grip on what's real is, but most will continue to feast on facts.
  • A few will start to trust their senses, their minds, more than they trust authority.

And "few" is far too few.

I am turning my contract in tomorrow, and I wonder: have I earned it for my town of Bloomfield, where stoops still matter, and folks still know how to bake and brew?

Have any of us?

No, not an existential crisis--my ego is big enough to think I've done as good as anyone else could have here.
But good is simply not good enough.


John T. Spencer said...

You've got me rethinking what matters in my classroom next year. That's a good thing.

Malcolm said...

Ego is one thing a teacher needs to survive teaching what may not be so important, but a severe dose of humbleness brings forward a good teacher's character. Thanks, Doyle!

This Brazen Teacher said...

What's the quote again...?

"Why is it the ignorant are so certain and the intelligent so full of doubt?"

Maybe because it could be no other way.

Asking the question "if you have done enough," often is a sign that you have. Simplistic? Maybe.

Simple seems to be the answer to a lot of my questions these days :) Thought provoking post.

Anonymous said...

First, do no harm.
Then: is there one person better off for having been subjected to me?
We save some, but not all, and that is as true for teachers as for anyone else.
We can strive for better, we can lament the failures, but the only shame is is giving up trying to make the world a better place. Just is it is for our students.
Thanks for being in it together with us.

Sherrie Lynn said...

Hopefully the seeds you have planted in their minds will bear fruit ...

Dina said...

You know this by heart, I expect.

~ Dina

To laugh often and love much,
to win the respect of intelligent persons,
and the affection of children;
to earn the approbation of honest critics
and endure the betrayal of false friends;
to appreciate beauty,
to find the best in others;
to give one’s self;
to leave the world a bit better,
whether by a healthy child, a garden patch
or a redeemed social condition;
to have played and laughed with enthusiasm
and sung with exultation;
to know even one life has breathed easier
because you have lived --
this is, to have succeeded. ~ RW Emerson

Leslie said...

That's a wonderful quote. I had it on my office wall for years, attributing it to Emerson. It turns out it's not his(, but it's still very wise.

Dina said...

Ah! So important to know, especially for an English teacher! Thank you, Leslie.

doyle said...

Dear John,

We keep each other thinking--and you're on your way to rock star status in the ed world. Getting you back in the classroom will be good for all of us.

Dear Malcolm,

The classroom knocks all of us down a peg (or a dozen)--we're doing stuff that matters. We need to get it right.

Dear Brazen,


To be fair, though, we never have done enough, at least not until we are too weak to go any further. We dance, we play, we fight for what matters, and eventually we die. And it's all good.

(I have posted on your blog, but my words disappeared.)

Dear Sherrie,

If I did not believe that it did, I'd be doing something else. What we do matters. If we do not believe this, we need to do something else.

And isn't it grand to live a life that means something?

Dear Dina,

Until Leslie jumped in, I thought that was Emerson, too--God I love that woman!