Wouldn’t it be great if we could script great teachers


Bird Droppings March 11, 2010
Wouldn’t it be great if we could script great teachers?

As I watched the several various movies about teachers over the past few weeks it recently it hit me, wouldn’t it be great if we could somehow provide a package for teaching, write that perfect script anyone could follow and it would allow anyone to be a great teacher. Then it hit me hard, indirectly that’s what curriculum in theory is for and various educational packages that publishing companies stake their names on. So why does it not work?
I was inputting my last bit of data for my research project for the day and was finding pieces of my student’s puzzles as I went. Most of my students that I have served in the last nine years have improved grade wise when they were in my classes and or I was case manager for them. Granted I do not teach like most teachers. I rely heavily on empathy and innovative creative ideas to stimulate and make the time they have in my class a learning experience and fun. I thought back to the movies, it is so hard to imagine Morgan Freeman not being a great teacher. But I know he studied his character Joe Clark as good actors do and his interpretation was from what I have read dead on.
In each individual there is a personality that you can not package and bottle. The greatest possible program in the hands of a sorry teacher will not change the fact they are a sorry teacher. So far to my knowledge we do not do personality transplants. In “The School of Rock” while Mr. S was for a moment content to idle away and collect his sub-check a note of music hit literally. He found a mutually exciting interest, to the students and himself. Something we often do not look into, are we as teachers enjoying what we do?
Bit by bit as I watched Julie Roberts have to reexamine where and what and why and then get hit with traditions and the boxes of societal demands, I know even today this happens. I have talked with my professors over the years and still carry on dialogue with them many times about one of my concerns, how so many teachers go to a graduate school program and do not make meaningful use after they leave. I am concerned! I have watched numerous graduates collect their additional money and not once utilize what they have learned or seen.
How do we bottle and or script a great teacher? I wish I could come up with a solution and a simple method. It is about the person inside. It is about empathy. It is about experiences and utilizing those pieces. There is an old adage that many teachers are simply folks who can do nothing else. The drab boring monotone teacher, even knowing all the content in the world will teach few. It is about entertainment. Maybe scripts have been written but then the audience changes and what do you do? We live in a society of change of flux of disequilibrium. It is about balance but keeping enough of a leaning over to keep growing. It is perhaps about the pathway.

“I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.” Elwyn Brooks White

Often I reflect on the journey of life. The many directions I myself have traveled. I watch others step by step along the way. I listen as some stumbled and are lifted up when pebbles and or boulders are in the way. There are choices at times which pathway to take as a fork approaches and we have to choose.

“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Henry David Thoreau, Walden

“Life is a foreign language: all men mispronounce it.” Christopher Morley, Thunder on the Left

“Life is a cement trampoline.” Howard Nordberg

Wondering why so many of us each day think, perhaps too much, obsessing over reasons and rationale, and tripping over our own inadequacies and imperfections. Are we truly desperate or is this a façade to cover up our lack of enthusiasm and desire. I wonder when I see a young person acting as a mime standing still facing an empty wall and unable to move forward or back simply immobile dressed in funeral attire waiting for an end. What has slowed their journey to this point what is it they have missed along their own pathway as we cross.

“He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.” Friedrich Nietzsche

“Who will tell whether one happy moment of love or the joy of breathing or walking on a bright morning and smelling the fresh air, is not worth all the suffering and effort which life implies.” Erich Fromm

“To live remains an art which everyone must learn, and which no one can teach.” Havelock Ellis

There really is no road map and no specific travel itinerary as we journey along each day it is unique for me and for others. Nietzsche offers a why as a reason to live, Fromm simplifies further only a happy moment or a bright morning is all that is needed and Ellis states an art form, life is an art form perhaps it is the wielding of the brushes and what colors we wield as we paint. Perhaps teaching too is an art form a spreading of color in a drab world wielding a palette much as a painter painting a masterpiece.

“You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.” Albert Camus

“Following straight lines shortens distances, and also life.” Antonio Porchia, Voices, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin

We set the boulders in our own pathway; we throw out the pebbles that force us to stumble. We end up creating the forks in the road that force us to choose and I would not have it any other way as I step along the path. However, we need to be aware than that we must also clear the pathway. We also must make the choices as to which road to follow. I see my life’s map as a series of zig zags, an easy journey constantly side tracked. It may have been once a straight line between A and B now the page is covered in this way or that in back tracking and circumventing in over stepping and under stepping. In my own climbing of boulders and in pushing some out of the way I have come a long way. I have used in Bird Droppings a saying by a Native American Orator from back in the day many times.

“What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.” Crowfoot, Blackfoot warrior and orator

For many this may not mean anything and it has been years now since I could hear a buffalo snort and walk across the pasture and see the breath blown in the cool of the morning stillness. It has been years since I have seen fireflies dance across my front field now covered in houses and roads. But I still see the little shadow as the sun sets and I still hear the breeze in the morning, tree frogs calling, and the red tailed hawks for ever crossing my pathway. Our scenery changes but life does go on and so as always please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts.
namaste
bird

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