Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Daily Affirmation (via Washington Irving?)

I had this thought this week, one among many--most of which I spare you (like the one about unmoored epiphanies--when you feel like you've made some momentous realization about life, but you have know idea what it is or what it is about...ever had that happen to ya?)--in which I realized that I am a living example of an original American icon. I sat at my desk, completely frustrated by a couple of my young charges, and realized that I was no different than any Norman Rockwell-one-room-schoolhouse-teacher frustrated by some over-active child with a frog in his overalls. It was actually a comforting thought.

Granted, the modern world has worked its magic on the school room, altering into a subject-specific, grade-specific, high stakes, wired, "scientifically"-conducted marketplace of instruction. We have tests to prepare for, legal obligations to meet, federal-, state- and district-determined mandates to achieve. We have industrially-oriented schools, churning students through hour by hour on a bell system, churning students through year by year with a nail-bitingly scrutinized graduation rate to meet. We have funding that is determined by attendance, achievement, economics, and a host of other governmentally-concocted variables. So, a school room of the 21st Century is nothing like its early-20th Century counterpart.

However, people don't really change that much, no matter how many bells and whistles you attach to them. Much of the time, the classroom dynamic is determined by a passel of kiddos trying to get out of working and a teacher trying to convince those kiddos to get something done. There are fewer frogs involved, fewer switches involved (both improvements), and chalk boards have mostly become white boards, but in the end, some days I feel like Ichabod Crane surrounded by a bunch of wild little Dutchmen playing crack the whip.

So, why is this a good thing? Because, it makes me feel like a part of something so much larger than myself, or my school, or even my city or country. It makes feel a part of history. Even as a small part, a part that will most likely have no real space in the historical record, I feel comfort in the perpetuation of, perhaps, the greatest development of American democracy, the public school.

I will spare you the political blah, blah, blah. I hate it when schools are turned into political tools by the political tools. I just wanted to tell you that this week, I know exactly why I get out of bed to go to work every morning.

1 comment:

AMVB said...

My once-again delayed comment surely doesn't reflect upon the quality of this post. I love that this writing is so you - humorous and thoughtful. It's important to keep this kind of perspective, especially with all the demands you experience in your position. Also difficult to maintain this perspective, I'd think. Seriously, Reda, I can only imagine how fantastic you are as a teacher. You'd have been one of my faves. Another way to put that is that I wish you could teach Sophia someday!

What are your thoughts about the "Waiting for 'Superman'" documentary - knowing that you haven't seen it yet, of course?