"The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves." -- John Adams

"No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution." -- Indiana Constitution Article 1, Section 6.

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilisation, it expects what never was and never will be...nor can they be safe with them without information. Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe." – Thomas Jefferson

Monday, January 25, 2010

Flowers and Sausages...

Teaching has it's drawbacks...politicians who have too much power over public education and too little understanding of what education is, poor teachers ignored by administrators, angry parents, paperwork, administrators who have forgotten what it's like being in a classroom, ignorant newspeople, US Secretaries of education who have no education credentials (the last two, for example)...

For the last 34 years I've searched for ways to improve my teaching and for ways to reach hard to reach students. The challenge is always there and what we as teachers do affects the lives of children in ways we can't imagine. It's frustrating that the people who control what goes on in the public schools of America (in the form of standardized tests, funding, etc) don't have a clue. Am I self-righteous about my quest to improve my teaching? Yes...of course I am. I have worked hard to learn what I have learned about education and children. To have a basketball player with a degree in Sociology, who NEVER ATTENDED OR WORKED IN A PUBLIC SCHOOL and who is NOT a teacher, lead the nation's public schools is, dare I say it, irresponsible on the part of the federal government.

Not that just any old teacher would make a good secretary of education...Rod Paige comes to mind...

Only another teacher understands what it's like...and we need to be the voices heard the loudest in the national discussion about education.

One of my favorite "voices" is a blogger...Mrs. Mimi, the author of "It's Not All Flowers and Sausages", a second grade teacher in New York City (currently on leave to work on her Ph.D. dissertation).

Mrs. Mimi shares the essentials of teaching. No, not pedagogy, although she sometimes touches on that...and not knowledge of subject matter, though that's obvious in her writing as well. What she shares is an understanding of children, a sense of humor tempered by love for her students, an appreciation of the human growth process and most of all, a sense of wonder at the delightful things that our students bring to us every day. She writes as "every teacher" giving us examples of the good things we are lucky enough to see in our classrooms. She writes about experiences that are universal to teachers everywhere.

Her profile says that she has to "make it funny so I don't routinely poke myself in the eye" and she does just that. Her insight into the workings of schools, the hearts of teachers and the lives of children provides a bridge that reaches across cyberspace to inspire and entertain her readers (and it also impresses me that her favorite books include "anything Jonathan Kozol").

In the short time that I have been reading her blog (and her book) I have gained a new appreciation for what we do every day. Teachers have the challenging task of growing citizens. It's up to us to prepare the next generation of cooks, doctors, writers and truck drivers (and yes, basketball players and sociologists). We're charged with leading children into their future.

Mrs. Mimi provides pain relief for the frustrations heaped upon us by the state legislatures, the US DOE and the media. I look forward to each day's post (she's promised to give us one every day in January and so far has come through) for my dose of understanding, insight, and humor.

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