They Won’t Let Me Teach

 

“I’m a teacher, but they won’t let me teach – not the way I can. It’s just not worth it.” – Miss Shaw, the Wonder Years, Season 5

I recently binge watched the entire Wonder Years series. I’d say I teared up during about 80% of the episodes. But, I must reveal that Kevin, the main character, was just two years my senior. I’m talking the character, not the actor. So, all that 70s stuff, all those family issues, the clothes, the culture – that was my world.

Instead of my teen-self, one episode got to the heart of my teacher-self. Miss Shaw was an unconventional teacher. She loved what she was doing and it showed. The kids knew it and her fire lit them up. I’m not saying I agreed with all her methods. But, when she said, “…they won’t let me teach – not the way I can”, I felt like she was speaking for so many other teachers. I recently talked to a teacher who is certified and experienced in one thing and has a desire for it, but she is being forced to teach something else. That’s just sad.

I’ve been in four different school systems in the past few years as a substitute and I’ve seen the mindless test prep and the daily wasted hours in “study hall’ where maybe on a good day five kids were studying. I’ve been in middle schools where seventh graders can’t write a lucid paragraph; in high schools where students spent more time “googling” an answer on their phones than it would have taken to read the article in front of them to find the answer.

I’m not saying there is no good teaching. I have come across pockets of creativity and solid math lessons; I have met some very caring teachers. It’s not usually the teachers, but it’s the system, the “they” that Miss Shaw referred to, that is killing education in our country. And every June, there are teachers who decide, like Miss Shaw, “it’s just not worth it.”

 

“…So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way…” from Both Sides Now by Judy Collins

 

I’ve seen teaching from both sides now; as a full-time teacher and as a substitute. I wish I knew how to make a change.

 

I Can’t Even With You

canteven

Today’s PAD Challenge was to choose a well known phrase as a title. Here goes!

I Can’t Even With You

This poem will be a bit facetious
A bit about aposiopesis
It use to be all about that bass
But now that woofer’s been replaced

I can’t even with you
I don’t even have a clue
I’m just shakin’ my head
I’ll just odd with you instead

When she’s using aposiopesis
Seems to me to be a little specious
On those days she can’t even with you
It sounds like a false hullabaloo

I can’t even with you
I don’t even have a clue
Maybe you should just go girl
Maybe just give it a whirl

Cessation of brain activity
Makes for a little festivity
When she tells me I can’t even
It’s not something I believe in

I can’t even with you
I don’t even have a clue
I’m just shakin’ my head
Let’s just leave it unsaid

Word Pictures #2

 

Word Cloud (1)

This is a second installment of Word Pictures – a collection of lovely and descriptive passages.

“Her laughter catches him off guard. As if it’s carbonated and someone has poured it too fast and it’s bubbling over in all directions.” – from A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Do you know anyone who laughs like that?

“… at eight o’clock the last of the cool was burning off. The State Farm thermometer out the window over the sink was slowly percolating to the top.” – from Lake Wobegon Days by Garrison Keillor

I love the phrase “….slowly percolating to the top.” When I was a kid, I made coffee for my dad using a percolator that went on the stovetop. I loved the smell, but I didn’t drink it until I was way into my thirties – after some of my kids were already coffee drinkers.

“She knew God tore down the old world every evening and built a new one by sun-up.” – from Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

sundown

Vilano Beah, FL

 

“… a hardware store was your practical Uncle Walter, wearing bib overalls and carrying a hammer, asking you in a hearty sausage-and-egg voice to point him in the direction of what needed to be done.” – from The Year of Pleasures by Elizabeth Berg

In the first few months after we moved to BIrmingham, I noticed several times a man in overalls shopping in Publix. It was a sight I’d never seen in Jacksonville, and it brought to mind the short time we spent in south Georgia. There it was very common to see men in overalls. Sadly, I connect this memory of the overalled man to the racism that was alive and well. It was the late 80s, but it often felt like the 1960s. But, that’s a story for another day.

“…with cornsilk hair and delphinium eyes…” from Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck.

This is a perfect description of my daughter when she was a little girl. But, now I’d have to say “…with Merlot curls…”

“You pierce my soul” – Captain Wentworth to Anne in Persuasion by Jane Austen.

Words

colorful-peacock-feathers-picjumbo-com

picjumbo

“…that’ll be about as profitable as trying to pick feathers out of molasses.” – Madame Manec  – All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

light

We southerners have our quaint sayings for sure, Stuff about having a hissy fit or being in high cotton or fixin’ to do something.

pic-from-the-movie-db

pic – the movie db

But, I digress. Back to the quote above. I just love it. It reminds me of O’ Brother Where Art Thou? where the language was a big part of the charm of the movie. Especially the words of Ulysses Everett McGill, such as, “Say, any of you boys smithies? Or, if not smithies per se, were you otherwise trained in the metallurgic arts before straitened circumstances forced you into a life of aimless wanderin’?” or “Well, ain’t this place a geographical oddity. Two weeks from everywhere!” Then there is the oft quoted line that my family has taken to use on numerous occasions – “You two are just dumber than a bag of hammers!”

I guess I’ll always love words and wordplay. Maybe that’s why I play Words with Friends on my phone and I love the hashtag games on Twitter.

Just remember, our words are like those feathers. Once spoken, taking them back is like trying to pick them out of molasses.

Social Media and Letters and Such #2

 

I’ll try to make sense of this  conglomeration of thoughts derived from numerous sources, all focused on  a common issue in my mind: the modern society’s pitfalls of social media and the like.

Fahrenheit 451 was published by Ray Bradbury before I was even born. I am amazed at the insight he had!

“And most of the time in the caves they have the joke boxes on and the same jokes most of the time,…” -Clarisse – from Fahrenheit 451

In my cave there are the joke boxes of television, Facebook, and Twitter. With the same jokes and political garbage most the time.

“There was a tiny dance of melody in the air, her Seashell tamped in her ear again, and she was listening to far people in far places.” Fahrenheit 451

Can you say bluetooth?!? He really hit this one spot on. It drives me crazy to be in the store and think someone is speaking to me and then realize they are talking to far people in far places.

“…people have developed less a sense of community than a loneliness which they attempt to assuage by being with other people constantly, and on a superficial level only.”  –  The Irrational Season by Madeleine L’Engle .

That’s me. I’m with people superficially online, attempting to assuage my loneliness. Often all it does is exacerbate the situation.

“We have an innate pessimism about telephone calls; they have a habit of coming at the wrong time, and they are too sudden, catapulting you into a conversation you weren’t expecting. Letters, on the other hand, are a pleasure to receive, not least because they allow you to consider your reply. But people don’t write letters anymore.” – from A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle

I must say that phone calls and letters are a step up from social media. At least with a phone call you can sometimes pick up on moods and intentions by a person’s voice. And with letters, you must put forth a little more effort and (hopefully) you take the time to craft your words more carefully.

And so, I leave you with this poem I wrote last year .

 

Left Unsaid  (April, 2016)

So many tweets were left unsaid

Brilliant words were never read

Chatty texts were never sent

Nothing told that wasn’t meant

I forgot my phone at home

No charming comments or replies

No clever words that sound so wise

No rings and beeps and  no voicemail

If someone called I could not tell

I forgot my phone at home

Surprisingly I did survive

In fact I may have even thrived

Lifting eyes up from the screen

With the world I reconvened

I forgot my phone at home

Social Media and Letters and Such #1

crosswick

We may be a global village, but instant communication often isolates us from each other rather than uniting us.  –  from The Irrational Season by Madeleine L’Engle

This profound statement was written in 1977! Now, nearly 40 years later, it is even more true. I have read several articles lately about the detriments of social media, and they are many. Thinking about some of what I’ve read, I ‘d like to break down what L’Engle had to say.

She refers to a global village, which is an oxymoron. A village brings to mind a community of people who are physically close as well as socially. People who know the needs of their neighbors and share many common bonds. Global pertains to the whole world, where, though we may know some of the needs and share interests, we can’t fully enter into the daily groove.  

Little did L’Engle know in 1977 how instant communication would become. How often have we (me included) spouted off on facebook, only to have to go back later and delete, though not always before the words have seared the eyes and hearts of a loved one. Or sent an email that couldn’t be deleted? At least when writing a letter, we have a little more time; time to tear it up before we lick that stamp.  

But, one may wonder, how does instant communication isolate us? It is a weapon, I think, driving us apart by comparison. All the happy vacation pictures, relationship updates, and check-ins. It’s just fuel for the fire of  “I want what they have”, and when we don’t have those things we distance ourselves.  At least that’s my take on it.

You can read other posts inspired by Madeleine L’Engle HERE