I’m not exactly sure what is going on; seriously, I am perplexed, befuddled, confused, even struck dumb by what I see going on among teachers. That’s not really correct; it’s more a question of what I don’t see going on.
Before I became a teacher I worked in retail; I managed a few hardware stores and even owned one for a few years. It may come as a surprise to some, though it really shouldn’t, that magazines exist that talk about the hardware industry. They discuss trends and tools; give advice about what is going on in the industry and what we should be doing. When I was younger still I worked as a forklift mechanic for a beverage company. Even then magazines such as “Fleet Owner” were around and I read them because I didn’t want to be a mechanic forever. One day I hoped to move up in the company. Regardless of what jobs I’ve held in my life, I’ve always tried to find ways to be better. It was irrelevant what the job was, it was a case of wanting to be the best at whatever I did.
Teaching and education must be the most written about professions and industries on the planet. The number of magazines, books, and companies engaged in supporting the industry are amazing. That doesn’t include the vast number of blogs created by people engaged in the field; I don’t have any idea how many there are, but tens of thousands wouldn’t surprise me. Teachers can find thousands of videos on YouTube about education; created by an incredibly diverse group and covering nearly any aspect of education you can imagine.
Of course, it’s not possible for one person to keep track of all this, but as teachers we should be actively engaged in trying to find the best resources and incorporating their wisdom into making us better at our vocation. Each day I read various blogs and have rarely had a day when I didn’t find something that could contribute to making me better or give my learners a greater chance for authentic learning. Tools like Google Reader help, but the greatest resource has proven to be the blogs themselves. The blogs consistently share links to resources and ideas that excite me and keep my enthusiasm up about learning.
The problem is that many of my colleagues don’t do the same thing. “I just don’t have time” is the common refrain I hear. I try to share everything I find that inspires me, but I’ve come to believe that most of those e-mails I send are falling on deaf ears (eyes?). I feel as if they’ve just stopped listening. I want to believe them when they say they don’t have time, but I’m slowly beginning to believe that they just don’t care. They aren’t concerned at getting better or staying current; being a teacher has become a job instead of a calling. The reward they are looking for comes every other Friday in an envelope instead of every day in the learning of a child.
It may be frustration on my part that is causing me to feel this way. I realize it might just be they don’t agree with me; that what I’m sharing doesn’t fit into their view. Some may say it’s my lack of humility that is at the root of the disappointment I feel in them. Maybe I’m wrong, but I just don’t think I am because of how many out there seem to agree with what I’m saying (or preaching as I was told). In fact, much of what I’m saying has been influenced by their writings and work.
Educators like David Warlick, Scott McLeod, Larry Ferlazzo, Richard Byrne, Audrey Watters, Wesley Fryer, Vicki Davis, Kathleen McClaskey, Michael Wesch, and countless others contribute almost daily to my becoming better and so helping the learners I influence experience authentic learning. My thinking and views have altered as I was writing my dissertation due to the influence of these people and many more. I try to share my thoughts and those of others with my colleagues, but nobody is listening.
Almost every day I wonder, “Why I keep trying?”
I keep trying to help them learn because that is my calling now. I still love working with my learners, but I have now devoted myself to helping the Master Learners. I need to leave the classroom and find a position where I can influence them; where I can change the way they look at their jobs. I want them to stop seeing students and see “Learners”; I want them to stop being teachers and become “Master Learners”.
Have I set an impossible task?
Am I Don Quixote tilting at windmills?
Maybe I am, but I intend to be the Greater Fool of education. I believe I have the perfect blend of ego and self-delusion to change the colossus that is education. I’m heartened by the knowledge that I’m not alone. There are others, like those I've listed above, that believe the same things. I’m going to keep fighting, keep trying, until I either succeed or die. If you happen to find this and you want to be part of the change contact me, contact the others, get involved. We can change the system if we work together.