After a day of professional development with my colleagues, we sat in Meeting For Worship to end our day, and as usual, what started as a few random thoughts led to some meaningful reflection.
First was a zombie apocalypse. Not sure exactly why this popped into my head, but it was immediately connected to the recent senate hearings with Brett Kavanaugh. Similar to you, I wondered why those thoughts would be connected, but somehow, I came to the realization that I would be equally surprised by a zombie apocalypse as I would by non-partisan politics.
Obviously, there is a great deal of frustration over the current hearings, and what they represent about the current state of our union. This nomination, however, seems to have brought out a different sentiment for many. With elections, there is always a temporary feel to them; that the person elected can only do so much to impact the present and the future. This nomination, however, changed the tone of the conversation, because of its undeniable and direct impact on future generations.
“Society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they will never sit in.”
This proverb came to mind soon after. The actual words never came, which annoyed me, but the meaning was still clear.
Teaching, in my opinion, is a career for optimists. Maintaining that optimism can be difficult at times, but most teachers I know teach for how it can change the future, not the present. Again, it can be easy to question the reality of our optimism, but I still think that optimism is a critical trait for any successful educator. We educate not for the world in which we currently reside, but for the world we want our children to inhabit.
In my most recent post, I wrote about one educator who symbolized this optimism, particularly her ability to see children for all that they could be in the future. She passed away recently, most likely knowing only a small extent of the impact she had. She didn’t get to enjoy the shade of the trees she planted, but it is clear from the many stories told by her students and their parents that she played a significant role in their growth.
“There’s no such thing as neutral education. Education either functions as an instrument to bring about conformity or freedom.”
My final thoughts of the meeting focused on Dewey and Freire. Teaching is political, whether we want it to be or not. As many around us argue about the current state of our country, it is clear that the work of envisioning and shaping a better future is as important as it has ever been.
“As long as I fight, I am moved by hope; and if I fight with hope, then I can wait.”
Our professional development day last Friday renewed the same optimism that was being tested by the week’s news. Obviously, the idea of waiting for a better future is difficult, and we need others to focus on changing the present in their own ways. I know, however, that my strength is in teaching, so I will stay optimistic and work to create a school culture that represents the world we want for our our children.