Advertisement

Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart

peace, love, and teaching our children

via google

via google

I often think that old hippies — those of us who were in it for the peace & love, not the sex, drugs, rock&roll — became teachers. Because that’s what the teachers I know believe in: peace & love.

Peace between kids, parents, teachers. Between the administration of a school and its district. Between those districts and their state government. Between all the ‘us’ and ‘thems’ of the world.

And love, most certainly. Love for our vulnerable babies, of whatever ages: from one to 100. They all seem like babies, when they count on you for affirmation and learning. Teachers may well be the original hippies… :)

Seriously, folks — I spent the past few days with teachers. Some of the nation’s finest (leaders at a National Writing Project site), all of whom GAVE UP a summer weekend, when they could have been swimming, or boating, or eating ice cream somewhere cool, w/ a summer book to hand. Instead? They were sitting in uncomfortable chairs in a sterile college classroom, reading and sharing research on how students learn to write argumentatively.image

They did this for DAYS, folks. Because they love our kids. Yours, mine, ours. Their political beliefs are all over the place, as are their spiritual paths. But their love for our kids unites them in this singular project: a belief that if we all work together — teachers teaching teachers, the mantra of the National Writing Project –we can change classrooms. We can find ways to penetrate the despair so many teachers feel when confronted w/ too many students, too little time, no help at all, and impossible expectations.

I’m telling you: for these past few days, I’ve sat in a room of warriors. English teachers, elementary teachers, university professors, high school teachers, literacy coaches, special education teachers. Each battling against a culture that says teachers are responsible for what’s wrong with education. NOT systemic poverty, or broken families, or inadequate funding (Oklahoma, for instance, has cut funding for schools more than any state in the country — 22.8% since 2008).

photo via the author

photo via the author

Still, my friends and colleagues fight on. This war takes the shape of words on pages, books of research. Weekends spent figuring out new ways to ‘hook’ kids on reading, on literacy. Ways to reinvigorate exhausted colleagues who have 155 kids needing daily writing that must be read. Evaluated. Graded. Recorded. And then begun all over again.

You wonder, sometimes, why they do this (even they do, on bad days). Because they believe in peace & love, remember? And they know that education is the way for most of our kids to achieve that.  They also know that while this mess education is in is NOT the fault of teachers, it’s teachers who are on the front lines, shielding our children (sometimes literally, as Sandy Hook should remind us). Feeding our children on their dreams, as the song says.

I’m a writer, and I find it difficult to convey how humbling it is to listen to teachers who have their own hectic lives, often second jobs (Oklahoma teachers are some of the poorest paid in the country), spend a weekend talking about their profession. About how they can accommodate the new demands of technology, federal & state mandates (which change with the prevailing political territory, often irrespective of research). About reading, writing, and literacy. About education reform. And about peace, and love. And teaching our children.

Previous Posts

inside/outside: it's that ageing thing, again
  When I was about the age of the picture, I asked my grandmother (who was probably 10 years older than I am now) how it felt to get old.  She laughed ruefully & shook her head. I look in the mirr

posted 5:36:36pm Mar. 31, 2015 | read full post »

the Zen of whatever
I love to cook. At least most of the time. And when I'm happiest doing it -- making something I like to eat, w/out a deadline or people I worry won't like it -- cooking feels much like meditation. So does garde

posted 7:09:03pm Mar. 30, 2015 | read full post »

spring, and the promise of a fresh start
Today when I filled bird feeders, I looked out over the yard. Everywhere there's the flush of rose & pink, and the backdrop of pale green that only comes in spring. Once I had the sunflower tr

posted 12:33:52pm Mar. 29, 2015 | read full post »

the Beatitudes, Buddhism, and living a good life
A discussion on my FB page began w/ my heartfelt anger at recent attempts (many successful) to discriminate against gay & trangender men & women. An old friend & former colleague pointed out that mo

posted 2:02:19pm Mar. 27, 2015 | read full post »

pets vs kids, and what we spend our money on...
My dogs are pretty indulged. Even (dare I confess?) spoiled. They have soft little beds in their kennels, fleecy things I wash regularly, and replace when the dogs chew holes in them. There is an American-made br

posted 3:56:31pm Mar. 26, 2015 | read full post »

Advertisement


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.