Tuesday, August 11, 2009

What's It All About, Alfie?

Sorry for my long absence...
While I haven't blogged in over a month, I have been busy tweeting. I've found that there is quite a vibrant community of people committed to making the world a better place. I don't necessarily agree with everything that everybody says, but I find it enlightening. I've begun bookmarking countless links to art projects, classroom ideas, grant writing opportunities, and mostly, thoughts on education reform.
Amongst the voices is Alfie Kohn. I will confess that I had never heard of him pre-Twitter, but several people I've been 'following' are his followers. I just re-tweeted him:
“One of the worst results of NCLB is that some of the finest [teachers] are planning early retirement” (Nel Noddings).
This so succinctly states what I've been feeling recently.
Don't misunderstand... I LOVE teaching. Being in a classroom with my students and being allowed to teach and learn with them is an amazing experience. It's the reason that I still recommend teaching to high school and college students. For me, teaching has been the ultimate "happy accident*"... I never intended to become a teacher, but once I became a teacher, it was the most perfect fit.
But the current social climate is all about teacher bashing. All the failures of education are the fault of teachers. Nobody seems to take into account that teachers have wholesalely been stripped of any ability to make decision for or about their classrooms. It's being omitted that we're bullied into force feeding our students scripted programs that present second and third rate stories in lieu of real children's literature. Never mind that we're set on schedules that defy any and all research about children's attention spans. And mostly, never mind that we're threatened when we aren't in lock-step with this one size fits none idiocy.
And so I take deep breaths and try to remember the words of Margaret Mead:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”

And on that note... goodnight.