Public education has been overlooking – or worse, neglecting – a golden opportunity to improve. It’s not only been right in front of us all along, it’s been kicking us and taking our lunch money! And yet, somehow, where we should have recognized an opportunity, all we’ve seen is a competitor. In some cases, maybe even a threat.
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring… Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. (James 4:13-16, English Standard Version)
Anyone in the world of public education for any length of time knows that we have a tendency to oversimplify things which are more complicated than we care to admit and to complicate things which simply don’t have to be that difficult.
“It’s such a challenge to find and retain good teachers!”
(We should pay them more.)
It’s funny the things that make us uncomfortable.
Not, like, in general. It’s not funny that snakes make me uncomfortable, or anyone messing with someone else’s eyeballs. Hair anywhere other than someone’s head. Dogs in the backs of moving pickup trucks. Those things should make anyone uncomfortable.
But it’s weird what can make us uncomfortable in our classrooms. One of them happened to me today.
I’m a bad person.
I’m an idealist with little use for idealists. It’s not personal. I like those I actually know. But their articles, and books, and speeches make me want to break things and yell school-inappropriate yells.
I’m a fairly narcissistic fellow. I don’t mean to be, it’s just that I’m vain and self-absorbed. At least I have the skills, style, and cojones to make it work for me. I make no apologies; every rose has it’s - oh, are you still here? I hadn’t noticed.
Teachers can be a stubborn lot.
To be fair, in this profession, we kinda have to be. Trying to steer 34 teenagers at a time into meaningful learning while trapped in a concrete box an hour at a time against their will requires, well… a certain amount of stubbornness. Sometimes it works, other times – not so much.
Amy Berard is a graduate of Lawrence Public Schools, and taught there during the first three years of receivership.She still lives in the community, but now teaches in the nearby district of Lynn.