Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Sneakers on a Wire

"My, my, aren't we special" as the SNL's Church Lady used to say. I mean so much press and all the talk shows and specials on Education in America.  We had Education Nation, Dropout Nation and Won't Back Down Nation.  I guess there is some general public interest in the future of our national treasures, and I suspect that with this widening of the circle, we will have more and more people weighing in on these matters that concern us (teachers) directly.  We are certainly hearing from those looking to promote their agendas for the wholesale improvement or solution to  those very issues that seem to bedevil us poor teachers (never needs ironing, never need ironing...Tom Waits).   I guess the producers didn't know that the area code to Chicago is 312. I mean here they were, supposedly, to discuss the big picture in education; and the big picture was marching loud and clear in Chicago and it could not have been bigger and it could not be more relevant to the discussion. Nearly every issue, which I need not repeat, should have been addressed, and perhaps the teachers who stood up to the privatization enterprise should have their say as to why a teacher would strike. But, that's entertainment.

If you have read any of my posts you know I am not a policy person when it come to problem solving.  I don't think that the solution to local problems rests in the hands of policy makers, miles away from where the rubber hits the road. And I feel that much of teaching is a form of  problem solving in the most visceral of ways. I use the word problem without any negative connotation but rather as a complex energy source with a simmering density and a trajectory of impending resolution.  In short: a student.  A student as a problem is a person on the cusp of change and evolution and hopefully a disentanglement  towards a genuine resolution.  And when you teach in an urban middle school there are a lot of problems careening down the hallway.  The range and disparity of middle school students is the widest of any school-age group.  The elementary age kids are like random molecules all pretty much under four feet tall. When you hit high school, you are already shaving either your face or under your arms, and you are who you are for better or worse. But middle school, ooh, baby, this is in your face evolution.  I have watched sixth graders come in like little munchkins and stroll out with tattoos on their chests.  The sixth grade boys are often smothered by the eight grade girls greeting them in the hallway, if you know what I mean.  It is a period of drastic physical, social and emotional changes and if you think those changes are tough in a stable home environment, try running those changes if you are also homeless or abused or in such an environment that you are doing all you can just to survive another day.  So, when I say that teaching is a form of problem solving, I am only stating the obvious to any other teacher - we look to the whole child and not to their pre-test assessment, test and post test reflection on the pre-test assessment and how well it predicted the outcome of the test...ya know what I mean.

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