Some educators, including former colleagues, might take some offense about my previous post. I want to make something clear: I don’t think that most educators put kids second. I do, however, think that many don’t make a conscious decision to put students first — not in words but in a phliosphocial practice. If they did, then this country would have never produced the test-crazed, frazzled, bedraggled education system we have today. I was in a position to just walk away, but while in the public school system, I acted antithetically to that system. I refused to give reverence, prominence, or reign to grades or tests or even curriculum for that matter.
Whatever we did in class together, I lead and coached to help them make connections with their own hearts and dreams and passions (a primary, conscious goal), providing tools in the form of academics that could help them to that end. It was not perfect, by any means, but the reality is that people deep down sense the energy, and my energy was to help them discover their own hearts and lives. That does not require tests.
Don’t believe me? Well, I think about it this way. All my former students who are working in education or law or medicine or construction, transportation, whatever — they would have done it anyway without ever taking one freakin’ test. I hope that former administrators and current ones read this because my students did very well, and the only tests I ever gave were the ones that I was commanded to give because they were departmental and school-wide finals — stupid, as far as I’m concerned. But my opinion is of little matter. What I do know is that many of my former students have told me how our class inspired and encouraged them because of the relationship that we had and because they learned lessons far beyond literature. In other words, our class played a part in the big picture — couldn’t ask for much more than that.
Let me sum this up. I simply want to make the very sincere point that I don’t believe that I was a better or worse teacher than anyone else. I did visit my colleague’s classrooms and learned from them. I knew that they had things that might help my students, and sometimes I wanted to know those things. I was different, though, and that difference was due to a practiced philosophy based on knowing that I wanted students to trust me and that I wanted them to discover their own hearts. That meant that periods of British literature, the writing process, and all of that took second place, but because they trusted me, they saw value in how our topics could help them grow as young people.
They did not always realize this and might not have been able to communicate it. They experienced and lived it, though, and I did the same along with them. We were not learners of English, but we were learners of life together. My subject was not sacrosanct. They were.
Questions to consider:
How many times have you asked yourself or simply thought about the following questions?
Who am I, really?
What is my truth?
How do my actions reveal what I really feel and believe?
What would I do with my life if I could do anything?
What is my passion?
Why am I here?
How can I discover answers to any of these questions?
If you have considered any of these questions, I hope that my experiences and writing will give you some guidance. Please read my blog and comment and share your thoughts. I would love to hear from you!