The more I don't write, the more I have to write. I miss writing for my own reflection, to look into the mirror of my mind and see what I see there! I decided today just to write. Of the many possibilities, this is what bubbled up to the surface.
Passion Can Not Be Boxed
After 25 years of working in this field I have moved beyond the confines of schooliness. This is not to say that I don't feel tremendous pressure from the outside nor that I don't have to do tasks, such as giving grades, in which I see little value. I have moved to a new place in my own mind where I trust my instincts more, where passion has triumphed over fear, where playing small no longer serves me (if it ever did). This perspective has been attained only through years and years of incredibly hard work. This is the view from the top of a mountain that has taken my whole adult life to climb.
I think about schooliness a lot. As far as I know, that word was coined by Clay Burell, whose blog, Beyond School, I used to read regularly for inspiration. Although we work mostly in schools, the most passionate educators I know believe that schools need to evolve completely in order to become places that nurture learning and learners, that value joy and curiosity. What does it mean to be educated? Why don't we ask this question more often, of ourselves, of our society?
Schools in America have become assembly lines of preparation for more schools which are supposed to be preparation for a good life. Are we asking ourselves if we are, indeed, creating a good life for all? What is a good life?
Here is Florida, the public schools are rated and graded. Parents, naturally, want their children to attend schools that are "A-Rated." What does it mean? It is all based on tests and more tests. AP classes and tests. Rigor. Homework. More homework. These have become the signposts people use to identify "good schools." Joy, curiosity, questioning, thinking....we KNOW these are important, but where is the time? Teachers are demoralized, and many of the best and brightest are leaving schools in order to teach.
This isn't finished. It's not complete or ready. But this is the time I have. So instead of saving yet another unfinished post to draft, I'm sharing now what I have now. It's what I have to give right now.