Wednesday, August 26, 2009

No One Else, No One Else Can Speak the Words On Your Lips

We live in a world where we are conditioned to believe that anyone (and everyone) is expendable. It is perhaps one outcome of the industrial revolution and the rise of factories and factory workers. "It's not personal, it's business" is said far too often. And it's said in too many of the wrong places.
In health care, there is an assumption that any doctor will do. Possibly a different doctor might be more skilled than a person's current doctor, but the relationship between doctor and patient needs to be born of trust, and trust needs to be developed. When a doctor knows and trusts a patient, he is more likely to listen more attentively. When that patient knows and trusts his doctor, he is more likely to follow advice. Yet, we increasingly are sent to HMO's (if we are fortunate enough to be insured) where any doctor'll do seems to be their MO; modus operandi.
This concept of everyone being expendable has also become more and more prevalent in education. All children take the same state assessments, and increasingly, are taught the same curriculum in the same manner.
But anybody who has or knows a child knows that every child is unique and special. Children do not all take their first steps, nor utter their first words at a specified time. And having acquired mobility and language, they do not all walk in lockstep, nor do they have the same speech and communication skills. They don't all grow at the same rate and when growth is completed, they are not all a unified size or shape. Children, much like adults, are all different.
This is perhaps why there is no one definitive guide to parenting, there could not be one. Every parent and every child is different.
Yet 'the powers that be' have mandated a uniform, cookie cutter mode of teaching, which I call "one size fits none". Research says this is ludicrous, the experiences of teachers and parents worldwide says this is ridiculous, and common sense (that most underused of all the senses) says that this is insanity.
On a daily basis, my head wants to implode from all these outer voices trying to impose a relationship between my students and me. At times I cannot sleep because of these voices and at other times, I can't force myself out of bed because of them.
Recently though, I've had another set of voices speaking to me, but they are speaking to my heart and my soul. They are the voices of former students. They are the voices of young people bravely facing a very chaotic, uncertain world. And they are telling me that I played a part in helping them face this world.
And instead of implosion, my heart wants to explode with pride. Pride that these former students who could have been dropouts, a significant statistical probability given their socio-economic and racial demographics, have met and surpassed my hopes for them. They have taken some piece of me with them into their futures.
And these voices remind me of why I teach. I teach for all the infinite possibilities and potentialities of these children. And they remind me that I am not an expendable commodity.