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.

 

Ray Bradbury Was Spot-On

451

“More sports for everyone, group spirit, fun, and you don’t have to think, eh? Organize and organize and superorganize super-super sports. .. With school turning out more runners, jumpers, racers, tinkerers, grabbers, snatchers, fliers, and swimmers instead of examiners, critics, knowers, and imaginative creators, the word ‘intellectual,’ of course, became the swear word it deserved to be. “ – Beatty in Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

What insight Bradbury had here! I am still amazed at his spot-on look into the future. Now, I love a good baseball game, as long as I don’t think about it too deeply. I like to hike and swim, and I used to like to ride a bike and skate. But, I am so not a huge fan of pro sports, or even college sports around here ( sorry Alabama). I think it’s because I see what Bradbury saw – that sports has been given a much higher priority than education in many arenas. And if a kid can run or throw or win, he is often allowed special privileges and not held to the same standard as those who would rather read than race.

Oh, yes, the pursuit of happiness in full swing.

“Ask yourself, What do we want in this country, above all? People want to be happy, isn’t that right? Haven’t you heard it all your life? I want people want to be happy, people say. Well, aren’t they? Don’t we keep them moving, don’t we give them fun? That’s all we live for, isn’t it? For pleasure, for titillation? And you must admit our culture provides plenty of these.” – Beatty

Oh, Ray, do you know we even have a restaurant now called TGIF? If you listen to the radio (another entity that’s becoming extinct) it’s all about the weekend. What are you doing this weekend? How was your weekend? I have fallen into that trap, too.

But, really…….

That which has been is what will be, That which is done is what will be done, And there is nothing new under the sun.
Ecc. 1:19

Click HERE for a review of Fahrenheit 451 by Linda’s Book Bag