"Living is a great deal more than simply not dying. It is carrying out a mission, committing oneself to fashion some meaning that will attain eternity."
We walked down the hallway side by side, the Principal and me, and a remembrance unsettled me. My mind wandered to the third grade, a record year of 'office visits', a time when the Principal often walked me back to my classroom (probably because he knew I might wander elsewhere).
Referring to a Principal as colleague still sounds uncomfortable for me... I suppose that 3rd Grader stills lurks inside me. Stopping in front of a locked door, the Principal said, "Here's your room. Here's the key. Good luck." I think it was the 'good luck' that brought me back to the present. In that moment the 3rd Grade boy slipped away and a voice inside me asked, "What are you doing here?" That was my first day with the Memphis City School System. The halls smelled of marijuana and teenage-body-odor... the ideal breeding ground for cultural hormones to thrive in.
I learned more that first week in the classroom than my combined years of formal education could begin to muster. The view from behind a teacher's desk is difficult to describe. Reality overrules theory, and the reality in a High School classroom is not for the faint of heart- 'thinking on your feet' takes on a new meaning. That first week revealed areas I didn't know existed, and to say I was unprepared would be a gross understatement. Teachers Beware- Young people know a poser when they see one! So, simply put:
Know your subject,
Know your goals,
Know your limitations,
we teach people, not subjects.
That first week in the classroom, for me, was twenty years ago. The 21st Century classroom has a new landscape and the digital natives are restless.
In 1647 a decree was issued in the Massachusetts Bay Colony that every town of fifty families should have a school. The decree was known as The Old Deluder Act. Culture has a way of shifting original intents and public education in America has succumbed; it is a hotly debated topic, with voices coming from politicians and parents, entrepreneurs and movie stars. Nicole Baker Fulgham and Barna Group, have just released Schools In Crisis, They Need Your Help (Whether You Have Kids or Not). Ms. Fulgham, both teacher and advocate, is the founder and president of The Expectations Project. There are many books, articles, and websites devoted to education reform but Schools in Crisis is:
Written specifically for Christians
It is a book for not only parents and educators, it is a book for Americans. Schools in Crisis presents the problems, proposes achievable goals, and poses a challenge-
"We have a nation of armchair educators when many schools- and millions of students- are in crisis. We believe it's time to stop offering unsolicited advice and get in the game."
As a parent and an educator I can only say, "Amen!" And so, the question remains-
What are you doing here?