Sunday, July 11, 2010

Creating dangerous people through......Teaching??

“The most dangerous man, to any government, is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane and intolerable, and so, if he is romantic, he tries to change it. And even if he is not romantic personally he is very apt to spread discontent among those who are. "- From Transmetropoltan by Warren Ellis ( he got the quote from elsewhere but I forget where)

So I've been using the fact that I'm not getting enough hours at work to, a. look for another job to make ends meet, and b. checking out the teach for America website. Oh yeah, I've been doing a little recreational drinking, a lot of walking ( go wandering from Inman Park to Cabbagetown, its really neat), and hanging out. But I find myself floating back the idea of teaching. Part me is really sure I'd do okay. And part of me is afraid of cussing in front of the kids and the fact that... gulp... I'd have to grow the hell up, which is something i have successfully avoided until this point. Cause let's face it kids, its put up or shut up time in my life. I can't keep doing what I'm doing. Its been fun but I need that purpose back, and maybe teaching is it.

I've always been a knowledge junkie. Information, even before beer, is my drug of choice. I like knowing stuff and I like sharing that knowledge. I really do. Trust me, if you've seen me on an good night at Manuel's you know this. Or if I've ever lent you a book. I think that it is something that really feeds me. Getting to discuss history, politics and why the world is the way it is, this makes my day and sometimes my week. Now I know a casual discussion and teaching a class full of kids who don't always want to be there are two very different things. And I also don't expect to change every student I meet. If I help one find a path then I've done something exceptional.

Its not that I have low standards, but I have realistic expectations. We don't remember all of our teachers, not all of them helped push us on a life changing path. And I'm cool with that fact. I don't want to teach cause I think I can individually change kids lives. I want to teach to change the system. The problem that needs to be attacked is the institution and how it lets too many people slip through the cracks. I got lucky, in many other situations the fact that I am twice exceptional ( learning disabled and gifted) would have meant that I would have fallen through the afore mentioned cracks. It was due to the fact that I have an observant mother and a really awesome 2nd grade teacher that I got diagnosed. That and the fact that my parents told me what was up in spite of the fact that the school district told them not to. ( They were smart enough to realize that I would a. figure it out and b. have very hard time trusting them again if they lied to me.)

And I believe that it benefits the general population of students to have someone who is like that in charge. Someone who was not just smart. Someone who has seen all sides of the public education system. Who has seen where it works and where it fails. I honestly belive the best way to change a system is not attacking from the outside, but getting inside and then subverting it. And I want kids to learn this. That if the system doesn't fit your needs, don't give up, make it bend in the ways you need it to. That is how I got through college. Be smarter than the system, study it, find where its not working for you and look for the ways around it.

I want them to know that the most dangerous people in the world are people armed with critical thinking and library card. I want them to understand that it ideas that fuel revolutions and change. In short for any comic book junkies reading this, if I teach I want to be the motherfucking Spider Jerusalem of education, minus the filthy assistants, the bowel disruptor, guns, nudity, and with less swearing. But want to some how get across the idea that truth is essential to our world and we need to be able to wade through the bullshit to find out what's really happening.

And that's another area where I feel our education system is failing. Through necessity and through standardized testing ( which unfortunately is one of the few concrete ways to judge how schools are preforming) we have created a society where we know things for the next test and then forget them. We are training parrots. Students aren't being taught to look for trends and connections. And through looking at those trends and similarities we can better understand the world around us. Our form of government depends on having a population that is able to look at facts and critically examine them and then only then come to conclusions. And we are losing this. And that scares me shitless.

They are missing that this on going quest for more knowledge is quite possibly the greatest thing humanity has ever accomplished. They are not learning that we are the only form of life that we know of that has a collective memory. And we have made contributing to that quest something that is not culturally acceptable. That learning for the sake of knowing is considered not cool. I still cannot believe that we have let our libraries turn into homeless shelters. We have free and unhindered access to information. That is amazing considering that most people on this planet cannot even imagine having that opportunity. And we treat it like something matter of fact, to the point where most of us don't take advantage of it.

And if in the course of teaching I can get one student to realize the importance of critically examining the facts, how to make the system work with out being a jackass, and to take advantage of our access to information then I have done my job.

1 comment:

  1. Wow - And you are wondering about your ability to be a teacher? All the right criteria in above post - passion, understanding, diverse expereince and the ability to make connections. Thanks for the affirmation of my observation skills too.