Penelope Trunk had the audacity to publish How to address the public good through her blog Brazen Careerist. Her candor has inspired me to write about what I know in hopes of influencing public good through the beliefs and practices of education.
The Ed biz is messy, for many reasons. Hope, history, tolerance, & “best practice” often collide with greed, ego, & misguided “good intentions.” I have experienced this within a number of schools and within myself. So I hope to share the evolution of my insights in order to serve as an advocate for students and their families. In the process I advocate for teachers too.
My own public education experience wasn’t all that I dreamed it could be, so I wanted to become a lobbyist for education. I quit HS to get my GED because I was ready to move on. A couple of years ago, my son did the same thing. Like me, his hunger for education wasn’t met through the K-12 experience. And, like me, he was smart, capable, but dubbed lazy and labeled an underachiever. Ironically, I am now considered an overachiever and often have to scale down the big ideas that come to mind. And thankfully, my oldest son is committed to exploring his options and educating himself too! I learned how to plug into things I am passionate about. That is what I want for all three of my children. I hope to see their passion and curiosity fed by knowledge and opportunities to evaluate the status quo and impact the world in a positive way.
I have learned about ADD, Aspbergers, and a variety of other exceptionalities because I needed to in order to be a better mom and a better teacher. I haven’t become a lobbyist yet, but I may sooner or later. I think the best we can do as educationists (student advocates serving the best interests of children in any educational setting) is facilitate students’ natural desire to discover and contribute. The math, science, communication skills of speaking & listening, reading & writing, and social studies are simply a natural part of that process. Many teachers complain of students’ lack of motivation, their laziness, ambivalence, and attitude toward learning as a waste of time. My answer to that complaint is, “If they believe it is a waste of their time, then it is. What are you going to do to find out what would be meaningful to them? How will you capture their natural curiosity and what will you empower them with so that they can be creative captains of their own ship?” Those were my words to a frustrated teacher who had tried everything she knew to engage two little boys who just wouldn’t “plug-in” like she wanted. She suggested I write it down and remember it always.
The 21st century demands this! Though I consider myself a huge advocate of writing letters to legislators and getting involved in government, I have to admit I’ve never written one. I haven’t felt ready. I need to know more & have more perspective before I can write such a letter. So one of the reasons I am writing this blog is to get the kind of feedback that will help me write it. Maybe the conversations here will inspire you to write too!
The driving quotes behind my values as a mother and an educator were said by John & Jackie Kennedy: “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country?” & “If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do well matters very much.” Ironically, I think I’m a republican…for the most part 🙂