Tuesday, November 27, 2007

You already know the title of this, you just can't see it yet.

Student head down motionless in class.
Me, "I let you sleep through first period, but you really need to try to get some work done today."
Student, "Are you trying to start something with me?" with a quivering lip of anger.
Me, "You have two options, you can relax and do your work like everyone else or you can go home, either way its not a big deal, but sitting here not doing anything isn't an option, I'm not even mad I'm just giving you choices." very relaxed and calm.
Student, "I can't F***ing go home right now!" Pissed off.
Me, "Then stay, chill first, try this assignment, be cool and you won't have to go home." In a soothing voice
Student, "You teachers always trying to get me going." In a biting tone (now glaring at me).
Me- "I'm even willing to look past the three F Bombs you just dropped if you relax and get to work."
Student- Head back down ignoring me.

How do you send a student home when they don't want to go home/can't go home or won't go home? What do you do when they want to stay but don't know how? When you have three students in a class you can't let little Billy in the corner doze off. One person in open defiance destroys a whole class. Therefore you have to set the standard that everyone works or leaves the room. One person can derail an entire lesson as well. The only upside is that once the expectations were set down clearly and the student was removed, the other two worked more focused and on task because they were able to learn a different type of lesson about what I want from my students, participation in the now.

I am so frustrated right now too. The lessons I want to teach these kids are not even close to what I am supposed to be teaching them. On top of that, even if I could teach what I thought they needed it would take me years to clean away the emotional rubble, baggage, and scars they carry from their past experiences. I can not in all of my own power figure out how or why I am not being recognized by my students as someone who is not feeding them the next line of bullshit.

I am not even supposed to be teaching them. They are the true teachers! All I should be doing is setting up situations for them to teach each other and themselves, but the traditional power struggle and role playing of the teacher as task setter/disciplinarian has become so ingrained in their school experience that I have to operate in such a fashion to illicit any sort of mental response what so ever. If left to their own devises they would literally rot away or spiral off into oblivion. And, if this is truly what is happening in schools, trying to somehow direct students in a specific way, even a false one, I think we are failing. We are failing at getting the students to move in any dynamic fashion at all. I am failing, I can't help them find their path if everything I say gets interpreted as the forcing of a wrong path because of previous situations.

SO, if we let them choose their direction they may choose none at all, or 5 million simultaneously none of which will be acted upon, but neither the lack of a direction or the overwhelming possibility of too many directions have anything to do with a path that is accepting and recognizing those who can help them find a meaning to what it is they are supposed to do with the rest of their lives.

I mean what is the point already? I can't teach Suzy that one day she is going to wake up and wish she would have done things differently. I can't teach Bobby that until he chooses to live he will not. I can't teach anything that is even remotely important to any of these kids in this situation. Its ridiculous. I am having a really hard time existing in this huge sham.
The reason I teach Biology is because it was the one place I thought I could find a seam in the system to clue students into the bigger happening in the world you know? Its not that I think less of the other disciplines, I just don't know how a student can't be amazed by the wonder of the living world around us. I don't know how they cannot feel the energy of life. But here I am, amongst a great people that lived and died by nature itself and I can't even get it right.

I am living in a land where the sunset has lost its appeal. I am living in a time where nothingness is the most attractive option. I am living in a place where disappointment is the only foreseeable direction. And, worst of all, I am trying to teach students who will face great impossibilities existing in an already skrewed up world that is designed for the people who are and have been skrewing it up. Not only that, these students can not return to the way their ancestors lived, the way that was one of the last harmonius ones that ever existed. Even if they could they would not want to. The shiny and lustrious glow of the electric possibilities of technological progression and destruction attracts them. The difference between my students of these great people and the rest of us is that they are still being attracted like flies to a radiating force field light that has the rest of us already zapped, dried and crusty sitting in the collecting tray.

And why not. It would be impossible for any culture to exist in harmony with nature anymore. Unless, and this is a big unless, they left the promise land of substance, harmony, organic pure existence for said artificial, robotic, blissful oblivion. You would have to come out of this beautiful situation where you were a part of the earth and it was a part of you. Death was natural and beautiful and not something to be avoided and medicated against. You would have to leave the light to try and manufacture your own so that you could gain the perspective that the natural light was brighter all along.

I think that is what is happening. You have to experience the opposite of your existence so that you can appreciate what you had. You have to taste the bitter deep in your soul so that you can remember what sweet really tasted like. You have to hit rock bottom to know what the surface felt like. You have to walk into line of fire to know if you are really alive. Culturally this is what is happening. We are hitting the same point as a culture of global humans that I am realizing simultaneously in my own experience. You don't know what you had going for you. You don't know what you got until its gone. And you'll never be able to appreciate anything until you live the opposite way. We tried the technology/medicine/commercial/government thing for a while now, and where has it gotten us? Instead of living we try to live easier. Instead of getting sick we worry about getting sicker. Instead of using what we need, we take what we cannot replenish, instead of being good loving people we make rules saying that you should be so.

WE DID ALL THIS for ourselves so that we could come to a consciousness as a species that would show us that all we needed was the way it was before. I mean its so unbelievably ironic to me that we had to learn how to do all this crap so that we can learn how to un do it.
Where the Eskimo, or the Native American, or the Aborigini, or the Pigmy or any of the indigenous people of the earth are is only at a starting of a long, painful journey down a road they must go on, a road that they have no choice but to go so that they can see for themselves, like every other culture that has taken the path, the futility and despair of this direction. You don't know what you got until its gone, I tell you what.

I don't consider indigenous less advanced than Western culture, I consider them luckier to have had the bonus time that they did developing a culture around the ways of the earth. I have no doubt in my mind that when the earth decides to rear her powerful head back and sneeze the mucousy human forth from her being only the creatures who are meant to continue on will. And, I'm pretty sure that running an I-pod isn't going to be a very helpful skill to have following a complete reset like mother earth is capable of. Lest we forget oh feeble humans that the earth has extinguished over 60 to 90 percent of all life on the planet many times over in the past. We are so delusional to think that we may be different. We are not the ultimate life force, we are just the next shiny version of things that came before us.

So here you sit reading this, even worse, here I sit typing this on my white stallion oblivion robot machine, no one is more to blame than I. I the car driving, plastic using, electricity wasting, soda pop drinking, waster of us all. Where am I in this journey? How far have I made it towards realizing the great truth of it all? How have I rationalized the things I do? How have I formed the meaning to all this? And why oh sweet holy mother of all that is holy can't I stop doing it? Why can't we knock it off? I don't think we've really realized what is happening yet? We might not for a while now. Good ol' Earthman hasn't hit rock bottom yet and neither have I. It isn't until you are staring down the hot steaming throat of the end that you finally decide that it might not be a good idea to go laying around in the mouths of beasts.

Now tell me, where can I find a curriculum that has that in it? How do I test that? How do I give a kid a C+ in realizing their own horrifying existence? You can't. You ultimately have no control over the trip each and everyone of us is on. I can sell all this bullshit all I want to, but no matter what anyone says, I don't believe any of us really know what the hell is going on. How do you teach what you don't really know, what you never will know and what no one else knows?

What I'm trying to say from the bottom of my soul is that I am not teaching with enough love. It is the one unexplainable thing we have left. I want more LOVE in my teaching you know? I want my students to feel the love. I want you to feel the love all the way from over there. I want to blast it out of my chest like a fire extinguisher filled with explosive rainbows. I want there to be haphazard love splashed all over everywhere like a loose garden hose in a small room so that no one is left dry from love. All you can do is look around and laugh at how unbelievably soaked you are in love. And that is the one thing I can change. I thought I was bringing enough love to the table everyday. But I got lazy. I got fat, and out of shape with love. Maybe I'm not the only one. I'm not waiting for tomorrow to start blasting people with my sunshine lazer beam dammit. You better look out. You better not try to hide in a dark shadowy corner somewhere cuz I'll find you, you and your sad little but are mine.

SO thats my challenge, you don't have to take it but it would be awesome if I knew how others are going at trying it. I'm going on the lookout for opportunities to blast people with love. I'm not talking about saving a starving orphan in a far away country. I'm not in shape for that yet. I'm talking about what I CAN do. What I can actually do right around me. Who can you blast with a dose of love today. Do it in your way, I'll do it in mine and then we'll talk about it. If you can't recognize already, what I'm talking about is this, if you can blast love and joy, do, whenever possible, but in the between time at least try to



Anonymous said...

I was reading the Stranger last night and was checking out my horoscope. Suprizingly it was very fitting for the week. Then I thought I'd check out yours, which I thought fit you as a person. I just figured I'd mail it to you with my next letter, but in light of your recent blog, I think it's better posted here for you to read. So here goes...

The visionary genius Issac Newton revolutionized science and math. His biographer James Gleik says Newton discovered "more of the essential core of human knowledge than anyone before or after." Ostensibly, Newton was humble, writing that "if I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." But he did not actually believe that, writes Salon.com's Farhad Manjoo in his review of Gleick's book. And the fact is Newton's breakthroughs "were not incremental, not the logical conclusion to centuries of study," but rather the result of "a supernatural, superhuman intuition." This is the kind of intelligence I suspect you'll be able to summon in the coming weeks as you expand your understanding of your place in the world. It will be as if you're snatching raw truths fresh from eternity, as if you're the beneficiary of udderly novel insights that nothing in your life has prepared you for.

Hope that helps. You are an outstanding individual, and one of these days those kids will look back and realize what you are actually teaching them, that this world is so much bigger that you or me. They will be grateful that they had such a caring individual in their lives. Don't give up. Remember, you are probably the only one who has the power to make a difference in their lives, and you will. It make just take awhile.Don't worry, your light will shine through!


Steven said...

The hard truth is that trust takes a long time, I think. I just teach community college students (who, by the way, often sleep in class too) but they aren't generally defiant. No amount of intellect, or creativity or openness or calm is going to accomplish trust overnight. These kids obviously come from very dffficult homes and the best you may get for all of your glorious work is perhaps one week at the end of the school year, where a kind of trust is struck, the students are in the zone, and you feel it. I know you know what that is. Maybe it only happens for a day or two, but if it happens at all, you have truly succeeded. Really, when you think about it, our lives are defined by moments, not by whole school years. If your students have a true moment in class, it will last them a lifetime.

Anonymous said...

You are love. And your conscious effort to radiate love will bring you closer to light, and those around you will feel it.

Something you once reminded me of(when I needed to hear it) I will never forget, and have continuously tried to understand to its entirity-

Everything in its right place.


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