I’m currently surveying the mess that is my office. Three expandable files stuffed to overflowing with papers from this semester’s worth of peer reviewed papers, homework, writing and reading responses, plus textbooks are threatening to gobble not only my desk, but the floor. That’s after I organized everything. I realize that I now live my life in notebooks. They scatter the floor and my shelves, in no particular order, but I am reassured that if I’ve had a thought, I will be able to find it. My laptop is no longer dependable and all my backups are on memory sticks, or as we call them, thumb drives. I’ve always wondered why we call them thumb drives. I guess it’s because we use our thumbs to insert them into the appropriate drive on our computers, but then wouldn’t we call everything thumb (insert word)? Wouldn’t a steering wheel be a thumb wheel? A remote control a thumb control? Of course, that would contradict as it would suggest that the remote controls our thumbs, but one could argue that it actually does. Once again, I must digress.
I’ve always been overwhelmed at the prospect of writing a novel. A hundred or so single spaced, eleven font pages has the prospect of going to war in medieval times armed with a slingshot and a shovel. Painful, and eventually you’ll lose. Yet, as I go through what I have written this semester, including this blog, I realize that I have written enough to comprise two novels, or part of a trilogy, provided it was more on the order of hunger games and not Lord of the Rings. Dr. Morrison, if you are reading this, there are two errors in the former sentence, in direct contrast with APA guidelines. Please be kind.
This semester has been rife with stress and difficulty, yet rewarding in the knowledge gleaned. Before this semester, the words assessment strategy, teaching pedagogy, hemogenic teaching paradigms and stratified educational systems would mean very little to me. It was a sobering and thought provoking semester, yet one that convinced me that I have made the right decision in choosing, so late in my career, to be a teacher. I have been blessed with intelligent and thought-provoking peers, engaged in many heated discussions and I want to thank my professors at Radford University for their insight, guidance and constructive criticism. I have been challenged intellectually and I have learned, for the first time in my life, to partake in a heated discussion without resorting to petty name-calling or losses in judgment due to my inherited lack of control over my temper. Although I have been very close.
I have learned the difference in teaching and assessment strategies and I have been challenged to analyze the pros and cons of each. I have chosen my thesis topic in Native American studies, particularly the effects of their culture, history and environmental conditions on the success of students within our own society. I have been profoundly shaken by our general inattention to the ethnic stratification of an entire group of people in modern America. It has shaken my faith in our government and our political system to my core.
Yet, I am undeterred in my goal to become a teacher. For any change to happen within our educational system, and within our society as a whole, it must start with us, as educators. We must not lose sight of the dream, hopefully at least partially unselfish, that made us pursue such an underappreciated career. We are ultimately in this profession not to become wealthy (insert laugh here), nor famous; nor should we have pursued it in some mistaken sense of entitlement. Instead, we should pursue this career, and our pedagogies with the unwavering commitment to make a difference in some student’s life. A professor of engineering told me not long ago that he preferred to teach college, as the miscreants and underachievers have been weeded out by the educational process and the application of standardized teaching to determine which student is worthy of a higher education. I say, and emphatically, NO! I would prefer to teach those that are struggling, those that need my help, and those that need and can utilize a safe and caring classroom and witness their rise to their own capabilities. That should be the American dream. To provide each and every student with the opportunity to be what they can be and what they want to be.