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Wednesday, September 07, 2005

On Teaching: Part One 

The three principles most urgently important to my working life are:
  1. Anarchist self-regulation;

  2. Zen/Taoist moment-beingness; and

  3. Freireian oppression-based pedagogy.
Of all the possible tenets of our profession, these three are the most inimical to the very concept of the school in our society at this time.

[1] Mostly, it's not my fault. Kids grow up learning according to the principle of "because I said so" -- therefore, by the time they reach me, they know very little else. So I can either invest 58 iterations of patience and repetition, in the hope of eventually, gradually, and painfully moving them 1/16th of an inch toward conflict resolution based on ideas and rational thought; or I can just keep going with the boundaries their first fourteen years have set up. After five years in the classroom, I think I see my time as too precious to try the kind of large-scale reorganization I had originally intended.

[2] Time, then, becomes the teacher's best friend and her worst enemy. Every second between bells becomes more precious than air; and the more I value this time, the more important my free time becomes for freedom (and the less relevant the other forms of time relating to school are: {a} planning for the future and {b} grading the papers of the past.

With regard to {a}, I can usually wing it okay. I've never taught a class for which I was utterly unprepared (at the very least, I have books always at the ready), but I certainly don't put the work into the future that many of my colleagues do. (And yet, I don't believe my teaching suffers for it.) As for {b}, when it comes to the mistakes of the past, I get like Lady Macbeth: Things without all remedy . . .

[3] Then there's Paulo. Reading him was like reading Chomsky -- so much we knew but didn't know we knew. My entire basic approach in a little red book. (No, the other little red book.) But who can abide anything other than the banking method in these halls of American schools? It's not called "No Fully-Actualized Human Left Behind". When the bankers call the shots, what else can we be expected to pursue? Numbers and letters become the new tyrants. The quarrel is between our masters -- and us, their men!

I defy you, stars? Not likely; not in excess of the boundaries, at least. So there I am: trapped between one set of authorities and another -- crushed by the yoke of my own oppressing on the one hand and that of the myriad creatures on the other.

Who do I represent? In the stead of that tired answer "thine self" (be true), how am I (unful)filled, what with my legions of educators, most never knowing Freire. But if it's what we know (not knowing), then aren't I there already? Freireian units, like Reggie Jackson in The Naked Gun -- acting without even realizing it. Un-uniformed allies, unknown even to themselves.

And their young. Hard to spot, harder to convince. . . .

Et Cetera

You all saw Garrett's post about Kanye West. Now see the video.

Garrett should also enjoy this cigar art gallery. But enough with that stuff -- I'm not gearing my stuff to any one individual. Who would do something like that? (BTW, I didn't include "Ribbons" at the end for you, so step off, yo. And the comic book rap was Luke Ski. You remember, I had that when we lived together.)

CafePress no longer does travel mugs. I may have to go with Lillian Vernon. D'oh!

Man, I really need a new monitor. Fortunately, the place where I got my new (used) laptop also has used monitors. I got this one used, and it's lasted me five years or so. Maybe I can afford to upgrade to a 15". Or -- dare I dream -- 17?


Garrett will certainly not enjoy Baby Got Book, a parody of Sir-Mix-A-Lot. "My minister tried to console me / But that Book you got makes (M-m-me so holy)" He may even come to Madison and throw a beating on me. (Thanks a lot, MoFi!)

Today I'm listening to: FamFeud!