0182: Why doing my “job” isn’t enough
#education #testing #teaching #SOSchat
I’m a teacher. I am required to prepare students for a test the neglects to recognize their humanity, and evens asks me to neglect their cognitive development. If I focus on the test, I’m doing my job. If I oppose the test, especially in a vocal manner, I am not only neglecting my “duties”, I am shirking my ethical obligations as a state employee. However, as a teacher I have a true ethical responsibility to engage (and enable) those in my care in learning and thoughtful reflection. My job is to increase and allow free thought and independence, but my “job” is defined by the narrowing curriculum before me that exists to prop up a huge industry.
If I do my “job” of training test taking automatons rather than teaching humans, even if I was doing my job, am I guilty of lending to the (intellectual, cultural, possibly spiritual) demise of a nation? Absolutely.
0021: Why Teach? Why not Rebel?
Why teach, when it seems like a constant battle? It is a constant battle for the teachers I’ve known, at least. And maybe it’s the for we teachers who teach in schools that serve at-risk kids, kids who have never quite received all of the equitable education to which they’re entitled. These teachers are under constant scrutiny from administrators who are looking down the barrel of their own job related problems, but the lack of empathy that often accompanies these situations makes the already struggling veteran teacher more vulnerable. This struggle to stay afloat seems to have come about through the corporate testocracy that now runs public schooling. It’s forcing a critical eye at teachers, which is a good thing at times, but it’s equally stripping teachers of the choice to teach. No longer are they showing up to work to motivate struggling learners to explore ideas and texts and mathematical theorems. Now they come as prison guards to enforce the dissemination of facts from ruling class textbooks so their once beloved students can perform on some corporate test. This forced testocracy breeds contempt for the teacher by the student, and certainly a reciprocal disdain from many teachers. In every level of power now their is contempt in public education. Each rung on the bureaucratic latter, from superintendent down to the lowliest of student there is an utterance on their lips: “That idiot wants me to do what?”.
This contempt is natural from students, teachers, and so forth. I dare say it’s a good thing. Contempt can serve as a catalyst for rebellion. Student “misbehavior” is certainly a powerful reaction to the boxes and cages they’ve been placed within. Equally, teacher eye rolling and failure to get around to certain things is the same. Students tend to be a bit more vocal in their rebellion. Rebellion is one of our greatest human abilities. True freedom has historically been maintained through constant rebellion against those who enforce constrictive regulations. Teachers, to not rebel, to not speak out, leaves you powerless and in direct violation of your own goal to teach. To really teach is to help steer individuals toward their truest and fullest humanity. Those moments of realization in students’ eyes make the job and all it’s problems worth it.
How can teachers rebel in this surveillance society that is called public education? First, we must all fight to keep our sanity. That means putting your mental health first and being honest with ourselves. We must be authentic human beings, fallible, and caring if we are going to ever even begin reaching the calloused rabble that is our students. Our students have been disheartened and they certainly are untrusting—with good reason too. Second, we must make sure to teach and nurture those little sparks of curiosity we see in our students. That means chasing rabbits, getting off topic, Hell, maybe even cutting up/cracking jokes and the like from time to time. We have to be human, and approachable. Next, we must cue our students into what is actually happening. Kids are being separated by test scores. There is no benevolent motivation behind standardized testing, maybe somewhere, but it has been lost in the cloud of greed that surrounds them. And, it may seem counterintuitive to let students know your disdain for the test, but they already know you hate it. Why not become allies? You are, by teaching the students how to beat the test, teaching them that our current is a testocracy, and it must be manipulated like any other system. Those who hold the power are those who can survive and thrive within and around unfair and ridiculous systems. We must help those in our care transcend the tomfoolery that is at hand. We must do the same.