Grab a cookie or a cup of coffee; this is a long one.
Everyday I become more baffled, humbled, angered, and inspired by the education system in the United States.
Right now I am untainted and naive in regards to the day to day life of making lessons plans, dealing with dealing or not dealing with parents, the administrative and political systems etc. With a fresh and idealist eyes, I want to explore why I want to teach.
I could rush into a great teaching program, get my master's degree, and then find myself wondering why I did this in the first place.
Yesterday over wine and beer and pizza Brea told me that her initial reasons of why she wanted to be a nurse have changed after one year of being a RN. But she still wants to be a nurse. She deeply cares about the medical field and infectious diseases. Just get her a book on tapeworm or malaria and she'll be a happy camper.
Why do I want to subject myself to the school system in the US?
What is education?
How does my desire to teach seek the truth of the gospel?
Something to consider:
The US is ranked 5th in the world for cumulative K-12 education spending per student in 2006.
That same year, the US was ranked 21st in science literacy and 25th in math literacy.
23% of new teachers in the United States come from the top third of their college classes.
47% of new teachers in the US come from the bottom third.
In countries such as Finland, Singapore, and South Korea 100% of educators come from the top third of their graduating class, first-year teaching positions are regarded the way Americans see first-year medical residencies-- the beginning of an elite career.*
Airplane small talk:
"So what do you want to do with French, teach?"
"Yes I do. I want to teach high school or middle school."
"Wow, good luck. You are brave. I would never want to do that."
I guess there is prestige in teaching in the United States. (Especially if you do Teach for America. You are doing the country a great two year voluntary service and then you can go and find yourself a real job. But for those of you who want do this as a career, you are f-ing crazy.)
The concept of education that I want to exemplify is this:
Education has little to do with how talented or intelligent a person is, but more to do about how a person wants and desires to impact the community around them.
As a teacher I hope to:
-Genuinely Love what I teach, but love my students exactly where they are more. (and to embrace the fact that they may not give a shit about what I have to say.)
-Show that I am a human being. Kids are conditioned to pay attention for 30 minutes with interspersed interruptions. Teachers are protrayed on Cartoon Network as ugly, stupid, mean, and clueless to what life is actually like. (I nannied all summer, I've watched the shows.) Our generation loved and respected Boy Meets World's Mr. Feeny. Where did he go?
-Promote and acknowledge the value of reading. And reading well.
-Provide opprountities for students to see that the books we are reading or the topics we are discussing in class can have concrete connections to their daily life. I don't want to teach trivial bullshit.
-Construct my methods as best I can to keep students from "playing school". I spent so much time in high school trying to figure out how I could manipulate the syllabus to get the grade I needed with the least amount of effort. More often than not, that process took a significant amount of effort. Interesting.
-Promote personal and social awareness. Many of the decisions and choices we make in reference to other people are based upon our previous experiences. This can be very dangerous. You cannot rely on personal history and overlook facts to assume whatever makes sense in your mind is the truth. (I now recommend reading or watching 12 Angry Men.)
-To take life seriously enough to play in it. (Hence the Forest Gump poster I want in my classroom.)
-Show that education has significant implications to one's life. By knowing, you are responsible. Jonathan Safran Foer's book Eating Animals, along with many other publications buzzing around are revealing the cruelty and dangers of factory farming in the United States. Education can suck. I love eating salmon.
Alex Nelson told me yesterday something his professor said (I am taking liberties with the phrasing):
"We are supposed to love each other. We love each other or we die. But we don't love each other. We choose not to. So we mask love with education. Instead we try to understand each other."
I hope to point towards the fact that education can open the way for love, not cripple it.
I may feel as if I'm defending Tom Robinson from Bob Ewell every year I am alive or a teacher, or however my convictions morph themselves in my life, but I'll still do it.
Because, "I aint got a original thought in my head. If it aint got the lingerin scent of divinity to it then I aint interested." (Read the Sunset Limited.)
Because at the end of the day I am accountable to Christ. That is what ultimately matters.
*Stats and other information come from Time Magazine's article, "A Call to Action for Public Schools" by Amanda Ripley. Sources also come from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development; National Center for Educational Statistics.