Monday, April 1, 2013

The Vision of Our Future Reflected in the Children we Teach

Since January 7, I have been teaching 5th and 6th grade Language Arts at a Catholic School in Hawai'i.    After a brief rent-compelled stint at Macy*s, I called the Catholic school around the corner to see if they needed a substitute teacher; lo and behold, they needed a full-time replacement for the spring semester.  Even though I've done this before, I still went in with big ideas.  My sails were full to bursting on my ship of academic creativity and I had a full-fledged fantasy in place of bestowing the magic of at least 15 of my favourite novels from middle school, linking verbs, and of course, vocabulary.  I love words, the subtle nuance and power of erudite discourse, and I was ready to shower my new students with all the love and wonder language and grammar can bestow.  

*This is where heartbreaking reality of fifty-six 10-12 year-olds with no discipline nor skills comes crashing down and I venture to cover it up with self-deprecating and cynical humour vaguely aimed at the broken system of Education.*

I was dumbfounded by the lack of basic grammar and vocabulary skill I encountered, and though I'd love to blame texting alone, I have to look at our whole system more critically and open a dialogue about what is really going on in our schools.  

My future vision involves facilitating leadership programs for Indigenous youth from around the world, but I can only achieve this by listening and humbly learning as a student first.

The students I see today have zero ability to be quiet and listen.  They are like rabid animals waiting to break free when no one is looking, barely able to sit in their seats, eyes wild-eyed and bodies twitching.  The children I met in Australia, in the Anangu community at Mutijulu, played joyfully until it was time to listen, then they were absolutely silent watching and listening for all that was said and left unsaid.

When I say, "looking at the whole system", education is only a small part.  What kind of communities do we have that produce these entitled, short-attention span children?  What are we feeding our kids?  What are we watching?  

It's a long road ahead to delve into these questions, but, let's open the conversation and then take action.   Come with me!

No comments: