Bird Droppings July 25, 2011
Far too many see the world with a narrow lens
I have been driving and vacationing for three days which is odd for me to not sit and get in some mediation and writing. I briefly had time to download a few photos with the hectic schedule we kept since last Thursday. So I am going into a deep thinker today with my thoughts and hopefully will be back on track this week as I came home last night to a smiling moon over my head a wonderful sunset driving back and most of all a chance to do a good turn as two young girls coming in the opposite direction in a severe rain storm yesterday lost control and flipped in their car into the guardian cable median barrier. We stopped and my son called for help as I went in the pouring rain to check on the passengers. They were fine the car totaled and within minutes a county sheriff was there. Listening to y son tell the story is quite a tale and I thought I told some stories.
My wife often picks on my old seventies glasses I used to wear, big wide lenses and frames. I went about three pairs of glasses back and got a new prescription and more modern frames and lenses much smaller, lighter and narrower. It has taken some time about three years to get used to them. I was sitting outside this morning and perhaps it was the darkness. My field of vision is such I was seeing the entire frame around the lens in my glasses. It is hard to explain. My old glasses with the big wide lens I did not see the edges of the frame and lens as I am now. In these smaller narrower frames I can see the edges and am forced to view through a much narrower field. Many times I feel as if some teachers see this way in their classroom in regards to students. Walking in the doors of any school you will find some teachers wearing very narrow glasses in terms of their attitude about education.
“How to teach, is to create possibilities for the construction and production of knowledge rather than be engaged simply in a game of transferring knowledge.” Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of freedom
It becomes difficult as state and federal mandates require teachers to teach to specific tests, be it subject matter, and end of course tests and or graduation tests. So often teachers narrow their view so as to keep a job as schools and systems look at success rate of teachers based on test scores.
“The teacher who does not respect the students curiosity in its diverse aesthetic, linguistic, and syntactical expression; who uses irony to put down legitimate questioning (recognizing that freedom is not absolute, that it requires of its nature certain limits); who is respectfully present in the educational experience of the student, transgresses fundamental ethical principles of the human condition.” Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of freedom
So often many teachers limit the classroom to their own view or to the view of the text, local curriculum, and the almighty teachers manual. A classroom should be about opening doors and windows not closing them.
I got into a discussion while working at a photo kiosk at a local retail store. I was using up my free digital prints coupons and got into a discussion with a young mother. She was not sending her daughter when she was old enough to public school because she did not want her exposed to all that went on. I explained my kids went to public school and immediately she responded and what kind of jobs were they able to get when they got out, she was assuming no kids went to college from our high school. She was surprised when I told her one had graduated from Georgia Tech and was now a chemical engineer, one graduated from Piedmont College and now was in graduate school with the intention of going into the teaching field in biology, and one will be a senior at Piedmont College in the Nursing Program.
She responded she did not realize very many went on to college from our local high school. I proudly informed her about seventy five percent of graduates went on to higher education. She proceeded to tell me she wanted her daughter to go to a “Christian School” and learn the right things. I mentioned how restricting and limiting that was, she offered she would take her to soup kitchens to volunteer and to expose her to the other side of life. I thought back to my illustration that I use quite often of looking at life through a toilet tissue tube. I once did a poster of looking at a magnificent plant through a toilet tissue tube putting the tube up to my camera lens. All you could see was the roots. It was a great picture of roots but the glorious blooms were missed in the wider view.
“Teachers who do not take their own education seriously, who do not study, who male little effort to keep abreast of events have no moral authority to coordinate the activities of the classroom.” Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of freedom
I recall a seasoned teacher who was searching diligently for the instruction manual and transparencies provided with a course materials for a class in world history. She was irate stating that she could not teach without it. It was only a few minutes before she was spouting off about having taught college and high school for forty years and of course world history for most of those. I thought to myself how could someone who has been around a class for so long be unable to teach a day or two unaided by props, especially props that are so restricting as textbook materials generally are.
While she had three degrees all were forty years ago and she had done nothing since for her own education. I recall a statement by Henry David Thoreau. He left teaching to be a learner so that he could be a more effective teacher. Every day I set foot in a class as a learner I become a better teacher. I am increasing my own view of the world, getting a bigger lens so to say versus the mother who wants to restrict her daughters to a view to looking through a toilet tissue tube.
“The more critically one exercises one’s capacity for learning, the greater is ones capacity for constructing and developing what I call ‘epistemological curiosity,’ without which it is not possible to obtain a complete grasp of the subject of our knowledge.” Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of freedom
The more we can learn and be exposed to real learning the more we can acquire knowledge. I like the wide view seeing so much more. I wonder why parents want to limit their children’s view of the world and or teachers narrow the view down through their selection and delivering of material. There is so much out there to see and hear and experience. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts.