Saturday, January 31, 2009

Lifted Higher

We've been in the fog for the last few days. Reminds me of my years by the Bay. The Portland fog can be equally as cold at the San Francisco fog. Only difference is that in S.F. it continues throughout the summer. The fog reminds me of how some folk seem to be continually lost in it. Not the Rush Limbaughs, who would spout their vile vomit regardless of who was in the Oval Office. Contraries need to be contrary or they don't exist. No, I'm thinking more about those that know something's wrong with the economy and just seem to be waiting around for it to get better. Not gonna happen for a good while. When it does it'll only happen when we figure out how to be a nation of consumers AND producers, again. We no longer produce much. Ironic that the Steelers are in, and probably will win, tomorrow's Super Bowl. It's an accurate comment on how much we've come undone. Most of the steel we use is consumed, not produced here any more.
The baseballs and gloves come from Haiti; even the little American flag tokens from China. One day this past week 64,000 jobs terminated. Restaurants are closing, schools face cutbacks, even Starbucks is losing more stores in the Northwest. I guess that means only two every few blocks instead of four.
Last week I spent a few days in my student teacher's classrooms. I particularly enjoy one of the placements because I have ample opportunity to move around and work one on one with students. That's what I miss most. But even on this side of the educational table, I continue to battle well-meaning reformers encased in fog. As if aligning standards with objectives with instructional design, accompanied by charts and graphs highlighting pre and post assessments were the most important measure of classroom success.
I know it's important for curriculum to be substantive, to provide adequate rigor, to build crucial skills, but this stuff is overkill. Who is dying? Everyone. Last week, while working with my two beginning teachers, trying to guide them through the narrows of education-speak, I got a call from one of my field supervisor colleagues. She's a few years older than me, definitely more by the book, even has the reputation of being a stickler on all this corporate record keeping. She needed help. She was beside herself trying to follow all the requirements to the letter of the law. I calmed her down; even while driving at the same time. Just a dose of logic in an illogical situation. "Holistic," I kept saying, "think about what matters, think about what you know is the true test of promise."
What are we doing to each other?
What if school superintendents had to have 30 years of classroom experience before they could even interview for that position?
Been watching the progress of Ms. Rhee in Washington D.C. She, who believes teacher salaries should be correlated to test scores. So now we come full circle. What kinds of producers will the next few generations coming out of our schools be? They live in a fog laced with messages of consume...consume more...consume often...consume anything, produce nothing.
We need a re-alignment all right. What needs to come together, in my view, is a reinvention of the American soul. When we figure out who we are, and accept that, then we can work toward who we want to be. Maybe it'll even include who we need to be.

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