A nice piece over at Stop Me before I Vote Again, emailed in by Michael Hureaux Perez.
I've often thought that in my 40's, I might enter the public school teaching profession. While I'm not entirely sure I could pull it off, as I'm pretentious as hell - and would probably be better suited to academia - I actually feel that if I were to do the most service in teaching, it would be the younger and less privileged I should teach. While those populating the schools any academic ambition would eventually take me to need lots of help, I think a shrink would be better fitted for the job.
Many things give me pause, however, as exemplified in this article. Curricula are rigid, 'state' standards for teachers are often completely antithetical to the idea of education, and the certification tests, while I could pass them without an ounce of study in English, Social Studies, Social Sciences, Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Theater and Music - in every state - are indicative of the deterioration of the idea of education. Teaching is about something more... hence these beautiful graphs in the piece:
The living theater work that Augusto Boal has pioneered in Brazil is an excellent example of what I think of as quality teacher education, or certification, if you must, because the participant in such a process has to learn from the jump how to listen, how to hit the ground running, how to adjust, and how to check his or her categories at the door.
Boal uses the term "joker". The "joker" is not necessarily a humorist, sometimes that person is serious as a heart attack. But the challenge of the "joker" is the avoidance of monologue. A "joker", or a good teacher, is someone who knows how to facilitate questions and follow up questions across disciplines and technique, with the aim of establishing an internal quest for academic rigor among each of one’s charges.
Questions are the process wherein people not only learn, but figure out what their own reasons are for embracing any given discipline. Such a process can keep all educators and students engaged in the actual world, where the students we deal with, both young people and adult, rarely fit the schematics or the theory offered up in the materials distributed by the "standards" groupies.
Teaching anything is about stimulating questions. And that is precisely what we lack in our current model. I have said before, that if I were growing up in our current system, I would have been a High School dropout - as opposed to the valedictorian. When I was still in school, there were teachers who gave us academic freedom - who inspired it. We weren't treated like chattel with no rights. We could make mistakes, and most of the time they weren't even discovered - sometimes even protected by teachers. And I was already on the tail of the failure of the US public education system.
Education should be revitalized - by actually teaching again; By treating kids with respect - and asking more of them - asking them to think; Challenging them to question why they believe what they believe, and defend it; Asking them to solve problems with multiple solutions.
It should be done in every discipline.
Still debating whether or not I can do that though...