Relentless, Ubiquitous "School Days."
By Freddie A. Bowles
Posted from Fayetteville, Arkansas
The third day of Christmas arrives in the restive, expansive northwest corner of Arkansas. For those of us in the teaching profession, we enter the second week of respite from an intensive semester of instruction, study, preparation, assessment, and academic juggling. The demands of administration and classroom management can be intense and fierce.
Already we speak of the next semester and begin planning our syllabi and activities for the new semester. Teaching is relentless and ubiquitous. It seeps into your psyche and permeates each hour. The boundaries between off-time and class time become nonexistent. Even shopping becomes class related. You look for realia to decorate your room; ponder a new fashion for appropriateness and practicality; books, CDs, and video must pass muster for multi-use (class and home) before you part with your money; every holiday finds you stocking up on candy and treats for your students; vacations become content-oriented or conference-related. You willingly plan to return to school for more training, paid out of your own pocket on your own free time.
The profession of teaching is misunderstood and undervalued by the non-teaching masses. If you listen closely to those "others" in your circle of family and friends, most are happy and relieved to be away from "schooldays." You couldn't pay them to go back to school.
Ah, there's the crux. Why do a few of us have fond memories of scholastic confinement and continue to participate in this compulsory social requirement, whereas the majority of our acquaintances prefer to keep their distance from the ivory tower and its related sanctuaries?
Notice the code words? Do they provoke you to wander with me in the drifty direction of this particular missive? Let's stress again the words "confinement" and "compulsory." Reflect on your particular experiences and assess those long-ago times when you were confined under compulsion to a particular place for a set period of time. What might we discern in contemplation of the Age of Confinement … childhood to puberty, and eventually to the supposed freedom we attain in our passage into adulthood. Schooldays seem less appealing when couched in these terms, n'est pas?
If, as a society, we insist on releasing our most precious charges to compulsory confinement for twelve or more years, then we, as a society, must persistently evaluate the worth of this system in meeting the goals of the citizenry. This begs the question: What are those goals? One question leads to another, then another: Who creates the goals? Who evaluates them? Are the goals being met?
What might you think about it? Who creates the goals of your educational system? How do you evaluate the success in achieving them? I invite your comments. Perhaps we can begin to string together a group commentary. Send your reflections in an E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org . I'll post them in a moderated discussion on the "Strings" page of Planet Gnosis. Why not?