Bird Droppings May 17, 2012
Trying to see the world with a narrow lens
My wife used to pick on my seventies glasses, big wide lenses and frames that they were. I recently went and got a new prescription and modern frames and lenses much smaller and narrower. 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 new glasses. It is really hard to explain, but in my old glasses with the big wide lens I did not see the edges of the frame and lens and now in these smaller narrower frames I can see the edges and am forced to view through a much narrower field. As I walked out the front door of our house earlier this morning a whippoorwill calling caught my attention and was so loud I was at first startled. Then my night eyes kicked in and I had been somewhat quiet as I left the house. About seventy feet in front of me across the road three deer were grazing. I whisper good morning and the largest I am assuming mother looked up and went back to grazing. I tried to be still but my rolling computer case squeaked and they moved away. I was still in the shadows of the porch and up wind from them so they only moved trying to get a bearing on the sounds. Again they went back to grazing and after ten minutes of watching I knew I had to head on and as soon as my computer case squeaked again they bolted for the woods.
Much of my writing I try to focus back on education and when you are walking in the doors of a 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 school and systems look at success rate of teachers based many times on those 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 view and to the view of the text and teachers manual. I see education in a different light. A classroom should be about opening doors and windows not closing them. I got into a discussion while working on some photo prints 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 local high school.
She was surprised when I told her one graduated from Georgia Tech and was a corporate head of Environmental engineering, graduated from Piedmont College was currently continuing in graduate school on his master’s degree, and one was accepted to Piedmont Nursing School and starts in two weeks. She responded she did not realize very many went on to college from our local high school. I informed her about eighty percent went to higher education. She proceeded to tell me she wanted her daughter to go to a “ChristianSchool” and learn the right things. I mentioned how restricting and limiting that was but she offered she would take her to soup kitchens to volunteer and to expose her to the other side of life somewhere where you can use a good disinfectant when you are done and go home I thought to myself. I thought back to my illustration of looking at life through a toilet tissue tube that I use so often.
“Teachers who do not take their own education seriously, who do not study, who make little effort to keep abreast of events should 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 of world history. She was so irate and said that she could not teach without it yet only a few minutes before 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 textbooks 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 daughter to a view 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. While I am using my new glasses at the moment I have been switching back and forth occasionally. I like the wide view seeing so much more of the world. I wonder why parents want to limit their children’s view of the world and or do 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 and to always give thanks.