Bird Droppings January 19, 2022
It would be great if we could script great teachers
I watched several various movies about teachers over the years. It hit me as I thought it would be great if we could somehow provide a package to new teachers to do great teaching. Suppose someone could write that perfect script that anyone could follow and allow anyone to be a great teacher. Then it hit me hard, indirectly that is what curriculum, in theory, is for and various educational packages that publishing companies stake their names on. But as I sit back thinking, why does it not work?
I was inputting my last bit of data for a research project and was finding and gleaning pieces of my various former students’ puzzles as I went. Most of my students I have served in the last twenty years had improved grade-wise when they were in my classes, and I was the case manager. Granted, I do not teach like most teachers, and 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 teacher movies; it is hard to imagine Morgan Freeman not being a great teacher. But I know he studied his character, Joe Clark, thoroughly as good actors do, and his interpretation was an accurate one from what I have read.
There is a personality that you cannot package and bottle in everyone. 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 substitute paycheck, a note of music hit literally. He found a mutually exciting interest in the students and himself. This is something many teachers do not look into. Are we as teachers enjoying what we do?
Bit by bit, as I watched Julie Roberts’s character, have to reexamine where what and why and then get hit with traditions and the boxes of societal demands. I know this happens every day. I have talked with my professors many times about my concerns, how so many teachers go to a graduate school program and do not make meaningful use after they leave. I am genuinely concerned! I have watched numerous graduates collect their additional money and not once utilize what they have learned, researched, read about, and even seen in practice.
How do we bottle and or script a great teacher? I wish I could come up with a solution and a straightforward method. It is about the person inside. It is about empathy. It is about experiences and utilizing those pieces. There is an 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 leaning over towards keeping 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 have traveled. I have always been a passionate observer watching other’s step by step along the way. I listened as some stumbled and were lifted when pebbles and boulders were in the way. At times, there are choices which pathway to take as a fork approaches, and we must 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
I am wondering why so many of us each day think, perhaps too much, obsessing over reasons and rationale and tripping over our 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 pathway as we cross?
“He who has a why to live can bear almost anyhow.” 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 is no road map and no specific travel itinerary as we journey along each day; it is unique for me as it is 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.
“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 pathway; we throw out the pebbles that force us to stumble. We create the forks in the road that force us to choose. I would not have it any other way as I step along the path. However, we need to be aware 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 zigs and zags, an easy journey constantly sidetracked. It may have been once a straight line between A and B now the page is covered in this way or backtracking and circumventing in overstepping and under stepping. I have come a long way in my climbing of boulders and pushing some out of the way.
In my daily teacher journal, I have used 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. It has been years now since I could hear a buffalo snort and walk across the pasture and see the buffalo’s warm breath blown in the cool of winter. 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 forever crossing my pathway. Our scenery changes, but life goes on. I watched the news last night and all the carnage of an earthquake, so as I have for nearly ten years ended my daily meanderings with please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and your heart’s namaste.
My family and friends, I do not say this lightly,
(We are all related)