0197: A broken Hallelujah, of sorts, but a warm one
#education #teaching #life #humanity @CletisStump @dloitz
It’s Christmas Eve, or the start of it at least, and I can’t seem to stay asleep. I haven’t been able to really write for the past few months—not consistently. Things have been topsy turvy at best personally and professionally. As a teacher, I’ve been in a haze, as a human I’ve been more awake then ever before. And to avoid being completely obtuse I’ll be flat out truthful. We almost lost my mother-in-law a few months ago, my focus shifted to supporting my wife. She’s still recovering, but doing so nicely. Then, after that seemed to be clearing up, my wife was in a head on collision. She called my from the accident when she came to, before or after calling for help. She told me “I’ve been in a head on collision, and I can’t move.” I was on lunch duty. I walked out grabbed my things, and told my principal I had to go. He took care of things that day and the next. My wife is still recovering, by the way, and back at work. Not paralyzed. Still struggling though.
A week or so later, the school shootings. A colleague shared with me that one of her grown personal children had been attacked by their spouse. Attempted murder. Just blow after blow. And, of course, the punches keep on coming. Out of it all, the adage, “Any day above ground is a good one.” comes to mind. A bar tender in college told me that. That bit of wisdom passed to me through a most perfect human interaction has brought me such joy; rather, it has made me aware of the joyous things right before me in such a seemingly bleak time.
And this moment of joy reminds me of why I teach. Teaching is one of those jobs that allows for, demands even, that we connect with our fellow human being. We are not teachers to meet some quota, or make test scores happen, or discipline people, or train automatons, or even happily keep our jobs. We exist to help make possible the awakening of a consciousness from this dismal world of subsidized slumber. We hope beyond hope to be a part of the humanization of another and to join in the mutual benefit from that moment.
I’ve tried to revive my hope in my chosen profession, to much avail, through philosophical ponderings and pontification. And it is bleak. It’s the system and its trappings that are bleak, not us. We are human beings. We teach human beings. If ever I have had reason to write a Hallelujah, this is it. Cheers dear friends.
0155: Ding Dong the Test Has Gone…for now.
#education #SOSchat #occupyedu
I enjoy post-test teaching. The air is fresh and light like after a storm. People are energized now that the weight is lifted. Teachers relax and classrooms look begin to resemble think-tanks instead of training facilities. Discipline becomes less punitive. People are people again. The test is over. While we wait for results, we’ll enjoy a spot of humanity with our students, fellow strugglers, and other comrades. Some of us despise the new found freedom, but the rest enjoy it. For now we’ll celebrate. When the Giant returns we’ll go back underground.
(The test isn’t over for everyone, but we’ll be waiting)
A monopoly on Truth is dangerous if we are concerned with the well being of humanity. #education #edreform
Today I saw students with their eyes as bright as they can only be when the souls they house are doing exactly what they’ve been prepared to do. They were perky, focused, and engaged. They were in their element. But, should testing really be their element?
0138: #Testing and the Pity of a Dehumanizing System
#education #edreform #SOSchat
I am not pro-testing. I view education as a humanist activity. You know, supporting our fellow human being. Mass Testing does nothing to support our fellow human being. Testing is forcefully imposed upon us. It tears us apart, and transforms teaching and learning into terror, stress, and mind-numbing test prep. Mass testing has changed the face of education. It was not perfect before, nor will it ever be, but we should strive for something more than the mass dehumanization of everything the Education System touches. Who knew we were a part of Midas’ touch, only gold is too expensive so everything just turns to shit.
I’d just like to see light in the eyes of students and educators again.
0093: They were “taught” or “helped to learn”? Directing our #language to benefit our #student s
#education #revolution #SOSchat
Teaching is quickly being reduced to a process of depositing information in the minds of our students for the simple purpose of them regurgitation the info onto a bubble sheet. Good teaching = good test scores. Good test scores = caring teacher. A = B and B = FU. We’re in this terrible cycle of educational propaganda that tugs at the hearts, minds, and souls of teachers. We’re confused. The triangle has been called a circle so much we no longer know the difference. So, we must combat this by reworking our language.
Rather than teaching, we must assist learning. I “taught” them the quadratic formula can no longer suffice. It must be replaced with “I helped them to learn the quadratic formula and its applications”. This simple restructuring of a phrase is the difference in a paternalistic teaching practice, and helping a learner become critically aware. With the changing terms comes a change of mindset—a transformation. It requires, me, the teacher to view myself as an assistant, rather than a ruler. It forces humility. It requires a benevolent and democratic spirit to admit the small role of helping someone else learn. “I taught” is an exceptionally self-aggrandizing statement. “I taught” gives credit where credit should be shared.
I am asking you to join me in the challenging task of replacing paternalistic language with democratic language in the teaching practice. It will be a challenge, and a slew of failures. It’s necessary for me to teach with the intent of building a democratic critical consciousness among my students and myself. We must redefine teaching with our language. Our actions will change as our consciousness grows. We must reclaim teaching from the deformers and the testers. We must help our people.
0115: To train and control or to teach and learn: is there a choice?
#education #revolution #SOS #occupyedu
It seems that the goal of institutions is dominion over mankind. Organizations function to tame wild spirits and make them act civilly. This is not a terrible thing— people acting civilly. But, do the rulers act civilly? Not just the grand rulers, the government, corporations, etc., but the smaller rulers. Those who have dominion over few. Teachers might fall into this category. Are we just miniature tyrants? Are we forced to be? Expected to be? If we are, or aren’t do we have a choice in the matter?
The choice is often a matter of rebellion. Our institutions, which stand to standardize the masses, require a certain level of tyrannical behavior for those who work within their walls. My power as a teacher, in this system, is based on how well I manage behavior and control the flow of information. The flow of information and behavior are tied together. In a system such as our where we deposit arbitrary and minimally useful information into learners then there must be a system of behavioral management. When you colonizing a mind, there must be sanctions to prevent and/or quell rebellion. To teach there must be learning. To deposit information there must only be classroom management and training.
To return to an earlier question: do we have the choice, as teachers, to not behave as mini-tyrants? No, not “succeed” in this system. Learning for a test or standardization or massification requires some sort of coercion, whether positive or punitive, it requires an external force to motivate the learner. Tyranny is required to extend or impose tyranny. There is a choice however, and it isn’t between “success” and “failure”. The choice is between teaching and training. One requires an act of open rebellion. The rebellious and radical teacher will choose to not function as an extension of the hand of tyranny that works to dictate the goings on within a classroom, and more poignantly the minds of the recipients of said education. Our form of education, that focuses on mass standardization at the cost of neglecting the curious human spirit, forces us to choose between doing our job and teaching children. We can train and manipulate automatons or we can teach and learn with humans. Your choice.
0106: Teachers, new and seasoned, remember you’re a person first, then a #teacher
#education #revolution #EtherSec #humanity
Friends who give your lives to the education of others please don’t neglect your own humanity. You are a human first, and then a teacher. We live in a society that so often ties who we are to our careers. Teaching is a commitment, a very deep one. It requires all of your love and humanity if you are to be successful, that is, if you are going to reach your students (testing aside). Teachers have many expectations to meet, and many more stresses that go along with those expectation. It’s easy to watch your humanity—friends, family, hobbies, identity, etc.—slip away as your focus on teaching increases. For new teachers this is a trap. You want to do a good job. You want to measure up. You want to change the world. You’re not achieving your goals or meeting expectations. You want to keep your job. The truth is, these are thoughts that fill the minds of all teachers, veterans an new, but as a new teacher you haven’t always learned to cope with the stresses. New teachers burnout quickly in many cases. Veteran teachers are focused on keeping their jobs, and have weathered many storms. Some have maintained their humanity some have had it stripped from them little by little. For any and all teachers, if you feel like you had no life, you must do anything and everything to begin one or maintain the one you have. It’s not just a matter of social and psychological health, or even a matter of effectiveness (you are in fact more effective if you’re psychologically, socially, and physically healthy). Rather, it’s a matter of dignity and pride. Humanity is the most valuable thing we possess. It’s how we value ourselves. If you have pride and dignity, you will by nature resist oppression. You will have no choice but to advocate for yourself. You will refuse to be a victim. If you value your own humanity, you will be better able to value the humanity of others. You will be better able to connect with the people around you and in your care. You will understand the need to advocate for yourself and others. When you lose your humanity and job becomes just a job. You revert to mantra “one day at a time”. Life becomes drudgery. Regardless of your level of humanity and self-awareness, do something, anything, to move in that direction. Read a book. Write one. Seek beauty and truth. Seek to know thyself. “Treat yo’self.”
Find a friend. Go dancing. Do whatever it is (or was) that makes you feel alive. Don’t fall prey to a dehumanizing system in a dehumanizing world. Arise and celebrate your humanity. Rage for your humanity.