No, Pank You… A Top Ten

I like them sour.

For the upteen-hundredth time, I have been asked to be a teacher. At some point, nearly everyone who sees me more than twice realizes every time I engage with the public, someone learns something. Years of experience and exposure means I have a lot to share with anyone who is willing to listen.

Why would I not jump at the chance to be a teacher? Let me count the ways in which I refuse to be hobbled.

Yes, I know what the standardized test will gauge. No, I do not want to spend all of my time trying to teach disparate concepts to satisfy some accountant’s idea of testing classroom effectiveness. Accounting numbs the mind. Vibrant minds learn more.

Yes, I know I have one subject to teach. No, I will not restrain myself to a single application of the lesson. If my science experiment on density can teach lessons in ecology, environmentalism, conservation, chemistry, nutrition, biology, anatomy, sociology, anthropology, archaeology and earth science, guess what we are going to learn.

threeYes, I know you want to teach compliance: sit still and be silent. No, I will not do either. I will walk around and ask my students the questions. I will encourage discussion, debate and even argument. They help children learn passion and compassion.

Ooooo… shiny! Squirrel!

Yes, I know you want numbers in a grade book. No, I will not do it by killing trees and keeping the ink industry in the black. I will keep track with an abacus, numbered seating, a whistle, pea gravel and a ping-pong ball. You see, I do not want to teach the ones who will be the most knowledgeable. I want to teach the ones who are the smartest because they can figure out what they do not know and can learn it.

Yes, I know I am expected to assign homework. No, it will not be something like what others assign. Yes, it will include going home and asking an adult questions because human interaction between generations is far more important than what is written on the website the school district approved. I am more interested in children who have the ability to seek information from others and listen to the response to their queries. I want them to be able to find an answer in a book, especially a “not textbook” book.

Yes, I know the point of standardized teaching is to perfect homogeneity. No, I will create trifles of perfection where my students move to the place where the fit is perfect to help each support others and be supported at the same time. I have no interest in blunting children’s personalities when I have the opportunity to help them become the most authentic selves imaginable.

Yes, I know that equal opportunity is guaranteed. No, I will not discriminate. Yes, I will teach them to be different, celebrate their differences and stand with their peers to do precisely that. After all, a symphony is only beautiful when all the instruments play together. Is not partnership far more important than solidarity?

Yes, someone you think is above my pay grade designed a curriculum. Yes, I will teach it. No, it will not be exclusive. Students who want more will always find a charger full of knowledge and understanding at their fingertips. No, I am not the one which will be attempting some moralistic campaign on impressionable young minds; after all, that is a parental unit specification. Yes, I will ask them questions which border the rabbit hole down which students are welcome to tumble as far as their research abilities take them.

What is yours?

Yes, I know I am not a parental unit to my students. No, that observation does not preclude my ears from listening, my voice from being reassuring and my actions being protective, investigatory and preventative. No, I cannot save my students from their own decisions, but I will certainly offer them and their guardians resources without judgment.

Number 10Yes, you say you want teachers. I am a teacher, but I am absolutely not what you want. In fact, you want shepherds. Me? I much prefer students to sheep. No, I do not want them to be just like I am. Then again, perhaps I do because I want them to learn to function as a society, not a herd.

For a bit more than just my hair, I am still…

Red Signature

What job have others decided is your pigeon hole? Why are schools indoctrination centers rather than learning ones?

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