At the molecular level...
I have a confession to make. My whole life I’ve said, I love school. I love the smell of pencils and books and learning something new makes me very happy, excited even. I made my life school. After I graduated, I became a teacher and went back to school and kept going back and ever since in one form or another, my entire life has been about this thing, this framework we call school. I go to it, I work in it, I talk about it, I want to change it, mold it, I read about it, I dream about it. School is has always been an essential part of my identity. That makes me a lifer, like being a teacher and school are the archetypes for my life.
That said, I have a confession to make.
I’m so tired of the oldness of it.
I want us to fly away and out and over --instead.
I want to act up and be silly, and so…
I want to throw text books in the garbage.
I want to talk to my partner and talk back at you for telling me the ‘rules.’
I want to roam the halls--instead
eavesdrop on conversations that seem more real to me than anything.
I want to peer in between the cracks.
I want to be F R E E E EEEEEEEEE!
Do you want to be free with me?
Is it possible for me to be FREE and be a teacher at the same time? I mean, can I really do it?
Here’s a story.
Me and a collegue gather information about a teacher, huddled together in the back of a room, him in a suit and me, well likewise but for a woman. (you know what I mean). His papers are so neat and tidy and there are check marks going up and down the column as he reviews the protocol and the rubric and all I want to do is giggle and laugh and grab his lapel and ask him where he lives and if he’s making enough money and if he has kids and how did he get into the business of schools? Instead I compliment his professionalism and admire how well he keeps every conversation perfectly in order and he smiles at me and says, if I don’t structure myself, I become way too weird…no one would understand me. I throw my head back and laugh because I know exactly what he means. Me too, I tell him and all I could think about was--who is this man really and why is there no place for his 'real' self in schools?
Does freedom imply that you don’t do rules, don’t believe in structure, don’t care about consequence?
Does freedom mean you don’t want to keep your bottom stuck to a seat? Does freedom mean movement, creativity, out of the box thinking?
Is it possible for teachers to teach freedom in school or is school by nature the very opposite of everything it means to be free?
Can we expect, demand our students to stay, to sit, to listen, to do this or that-- when deep down inside we’re suffering, hating every minute of it, or hating them, ‘those’ kids who make our life difficult, make our jobs feel more like a prison rather than a school?
Then, I think this. Shhhh. Don’t tell anybody.
What would that classroom of recalcitrant boys and girls look like without order, control, rules? My rules. Why, they’d probably
Kill themselves to death (those savages)
Or break something
They might hurt somebody
Or plan to hurt somebody after school
Join a gang or start a new one
Sell drugs or take some
They definitely would not CHOOSE to learn something.
Wait, maybe if one or two or a handful of them did, what would they choose to learn? Not the curriculum of course, that would be boring
And if they did, choose that, then, wait—
What would that mean?
Most, might vegetate on the computers in the back of the room.
Others on cell phones, iPads and the like, if they have it.
Headphones would be on, you think? They’d choose to listen to music.
Some might put their head down.
Do you think they’d get tired of sleeping? I’m asking you, really. Do you think the kids in your class would choose to sleep all day?
Here’s a quote:
"Do not train a child to learn by force or harshness; but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of genius of each." Plato
Who does this quote refer to? All kids, or just some kids? Your kids? Poor kids? Smart kids, stupid kids?
The Spirit of Agency is believing at the molecular, spiritual level that you can make a difference in the world not by changing others, people and things—but by opening your spirit enough so that the light of others can shine through you.
It is not about them.
It is about you.
If you are not free to be you, to live in your truth—then you cannot teach someone else to be free.
I cannot teach anybody to be free because I’m scared of what absolute freedom means. That is why I’m engaged in the process of poking holes. My goal is to engage in the process of freedom, one step at a time, one hole at a time, one day at a time.
I'm asking you to consider the same. What are you an agent of in your classroom and is your spirit aligned with this mission at the molecular level or do you need to poke a few holes in your armor?