Thursday, August 15, 2013

...and why I teach anyway

Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
Mary Oliver, from "The Summer Day"

Higbee Beach, Cape May

None of us are here for more than a lifetime, so long as "us" refers to the living.

I grumble in the summer as I plow through ed policy, through the machinations of very rich people whose happiness does not match their wealth. I grumble as I see my classroom walls become more impervious to the natural world, as education transitions to training.

School starts soon, and it's time, again, to remind myself why what we do matters so long as we practice teaching in a way that makes it matter.

Mudflat grace, off Richardson Sound

Why I stay:
Watch a child at play on a mudflat. The unfolding drama at the edge of the sea holds a lifetime’s worth of study and of joy. Same could be said for just about any patch of Earth under open sky. I want all kids to know this.
We are here together on a planet, inextricably linked to each other and to everything else alive, and to many things not. Many live in worlds that are but shells of the fundamental one defined by dirt, water and sun. I want all kids to know this.
I teach about the natural world, or rather, how we think about the natural world. There are moments when the classroom is humming, when students tend to their fish, their wheat plants, their sow bugs, or their slugs. The natural world is worth knowing. I want all kids to know this. 
You Can't Pray a Lie, Mary Ann Reilly, 2012

A teacher assumes an awesome yoke of responsibility—when a teacher succeeds, a child’s world grows larger.

Why else bother?
Bits and pieces lifted from other posts--this one is mostly for me.


Malcolm Chrystal said...

teach. play. observe. repeat.

spent the day on an oregon coast beach and it was the quietest our foster son has ever been.

expose. lead. observe. repeat

i love reading your posts. i am sad that i am moving away from teaching. you remind me of me.


John Spencer said...

Love it.

doyle said...

Dear Malcolm,

So come on back! ;)

The Rambling Sage said...

Been following you for a long time, and after a rough start to my year. I am refreshed by your words, and gives me a constant reminder of the positive side. Thank you!