These days there isn’t a lot of life being led in the Rockridge sense. Saddleshoos is busy at Mills College and at a middle school in Alameda, and shuttling between the two along High Street.
Several course meals have been replaced by readers, midterms, and lesson plans. The questions are why teach? how to teach? what is an educative experience according to Dewey’s concepts of continuity and interaction? how do we combat contextual factors that render experience miseducative for students? Design a unit plan that includes: “performances of understanding.” Tests are out, understanding is in. In teacher preparation programs that is, until you get back to the district (where Saddleshoos incidentally has already been) and you find out that it really still is all about the tests. And no one is interested in your performance of understanding.
Unless you can squeeze yourself into a context that buys into that stuff. Like a progressive private high school that costs as much as it did to go to college in the late 90’s, or a charter school, that while functioning as a beautiful laboratory does little, as far as I can tell, to serve all children the way public schools are meant to do. They try though, they do, and maybe I’ll end up there, but perhaps not without feeling like I gave up the fight a little.
So where teach? In the dysfunctional district, the elusive charter, the exclusive private school?
Recently all I want to do is throw in the towel and kick it to Europe. Perhaps Rome (I. and I did just watch Roman Holiday), or maybe Madrid or Barcelona. Or Paris. A great European city. I’ve always wanted to live in an Almodovar film, somewhere where my nervous breakdowns and flair for the dramatic can be most fully appreciated. Any takers?
There it is. The explanation for thin and far between posts, lack of writing, and focus on the pretty pictures.
But all is not lost. I told a colleague last night when she asked me how I cope with it all (since we all face these same dilemmas, since I am not unique, and teachers just might be the most endangered of species in our world), the only way I get through is by waking up everyday and showing my students all the love and knowledge and energy I have for them. And that’s a lot. I love the kids. And they make it all worth it. You’ve got to love the kids.
Tomorrow night for the first time in my three years in education I will visit the home of one of my students. I’ve been strictly instructed that entrance is only granted to those who call the parent by their first name, and those who come with an empty stomach. I’ve agreed to the terms. And so as not to offend the culinary expertise of my host, I plan on bringing an arrangement, so perhaps I can squeeze a flora post out of that tomorrow.
Here’s to another day with the youth. Bless them all.
And don’t forget, Obama is a teacher. Put down the hatchet, pick up the scalpel, and start excising the sickness.