I’ve talked about this before, so please be patient with me if you are tired of my ramblings about teaching, but I think I’ve figured out why it has been so difficult.
It’s an epiphany really. It all started when I read this article for my grad class. Currently, I’m working on my doctorate in Educational Leadership with a concentration in diversity, equity and social justice, so much of the course work really centers on the inadequacies of the public education system. The article “Social Class and the Hidden Curriculum of Work” by Jean Anyon (1980) reveals how public schools compress students. The system requires compliance and discipline. It follows a punitive model for discipline. There is no real room for error. The lower the socio-economic status of the school, the less freedom is given. Creativity is a detriment. Freedom of expression is often squashed. Learning is canned and processed so it is accessible to the masses.
The epiphany I had was my sudden realization of the role I play in this compliance model. I started to think about the ways I curtail my students and stunt their learning.
I will never forget a conversation I had with a student about four years ago. She was doing poorly in school and her mom was grounding her again. She was sad and a bit despondent. I asked if she were okay, and she told me the disheartening story of her science class and her failing grade.
“To be honest, I actually love to learn. I even really enjoy science. I want to become a nurse someday. I just hate school,” she said matter-of-factly.
And that’s it, right? Education-the way to make a kid who loves to learn actually start to hate it.
But this is not where my epiphany ends. No, it goes on much further. Because after reading this article, I realized I was not only perpetuating the system, but I was a product of it. My middle-class education convinced me of the necessity of the bell schedule. It drilled in the idea of rote learning and one-chance assessments. It sold the narrative that learning was done through a worksheet with a sharp number two pencil, and only the teachers had the wisdom and knowledge in those four walls.
I am a perfect product of amenability. And I don’t want to be a part of the system anymore. I want the freedom to enjoy lunch for longer than 20 minutes. I don’t want to be locked in my classroom where I am only able to get 2300 steps a day over the course of eight hours. I am tired of asking permission if I just wanted a cup of coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts. Every day feels more and more like the prisons these buildings were patterned after.
But then I get an email like this…
SIDE NOTE: I said she was “too skilled of a reader” to be in this class, Lol, but who’s counting.
It is when I get notes like this that I start to feel a bit better. It starts to feel like I can actually change something, maybe I am making a small difference.
Either way, it gets me through another day until something else adds up.
Love and Light!! (Especially you teachers out there!)