Saturday, June 15, 2013

Yearbook signing time

Spent part of the afternoon sharing a few gallons of the Delaware Bay with a small pod of dolphins, including one younger than my garden's parsley--they were as aware of us as we were of them.

And neither of us had a clue what that means....

Leslie and I kayaked about 400 yards off-shore--when we slowed down, so did they. The sound of a dolphin snorting hits me the same way the waving telson of a horseshoe crab does, or the buzz of a carpenter bee going eyeball to eyeball with me. Hey, I'm here, so are you, cool beans!....

Ate peas from the garden, spiced up with rosemary from the garden. Not sure who picked the garlic, but aware someone did, and am thankful for that.

We also had pesto, made from basil we planted back in March.I even used a few plants started by a student, who had no use for them.

I drank melomel made here under my roof from local blueberries and honey sent to me by a friend.

I didn't contribute much to the GNP today.

What does any of this have to do with teaching? With preparing our children for college or careers?
Not much.

What does this have to do with education?

I don't work for Microsoft or Pearson or the Pentagon. I work for the families who pay taxes here in Bloomfield, and despite all the press saying otherwise, most parents think I've done OK with their kids, and that's a big deal to me.

Trust and love, not test scores and metrics, define a functioning democracy, nurture happiness, create a community.

I am not as good a teacher I hope to be, but I am a better one than Arne wants me to be.

I am prepping my students for democracy, for happiness, for self-sufficiency. Long before Arne, our government offered 40 acres and a mule. The acres are gone, the mules sterile, but even a tiny patch of dirt will get you enough basil for a meal or two.

Growing your own food changes you.
Basil seeds, from dried basil flowers, for our classroom.

Every year we grow food in our classroom, plants made from the breath of the young adults who sit day after day under fluorescent lights, struggling through a curriculum designed by powerful folks who would not waste "valuable" time with nonsense like plants and love and light.

And I eat it, in class, and despite the feigned "ewwws," most of my lambs pay attention, because despite what you might think of our young ones, they still care about what matters.

And this, gentle reader, is why I still teach.


John Spencer said...

"I am prepping my students for democracy, for happiness, for self-sufficiency." Love that line, Doyle. I'd like to say that I'm doing the same thing, but sometimes I wonder if I'm lying to myself.

doyle said...

Dear John,

I trust that you are--we both make compromises (else we'd both be tossed out on our arses).

Keep fighting the good fight. We will win in the end, but if we don't, we'll at least sleep and dance better than those who would harm our children.

Susan Eckert said...

It always warms my heart to see my students come into class and immediately check out their plants day after day. They love their plants. And I love that they love their plants. Of course I learned from the best that every bio class room should be filled with chloroplasts churning away.

As much as I dreaded teaching them about xylem and phloem, ground tissue and dermal tissue (talk about teaching to the test!), when they started really thinking about plants and asking why a tree doesn't die when its leaves fall off and whether grass has a stem and if it flowers, I felt a little better.

Standardized tests and common assessments be damned--the best data I've collected so far is that students really like growing their own plants. Because plants are "cool beans." :)

doyle said...

Dear Susan,

If we get them asking question about things that matter, we've done the critical work.

I'm guessing that some of your students will be planting seeds long after they've forgotten the word "phloem," and a few of them will remember you as they garden.