Session Three- American Education: Past and Present

“The world would be very silent if no birds sang except those who sang best.”

-Henry David Thoreau

Professor Scheuerman (2014) emphasizes the power of memory as one of the cornerstones of a sustained and fortifying education.  Specifically, he recalls four quotations that were engraved at each directional in a high school he visited, and the impression these wise words imparted in terms of anchoring one’s growth into respectable citizenry.  I connected with the Thoreau quote on two levels relative to the responsibility a teacher carries within society.  First, when I first began working with elementary-age children 6 years ago, I quickly realized that singing is a required action for the job.  I have always regarded myself as a horrible singer, and reserved such actions for intimate family gatherings, or solo moments in the shower or car.  I had to get over myself right away because when I realized that children gain infinite joy and meaningful knowledge through singing on a daily basis.  This led me to a deeper insight relative to this week’s topic of teachers as civil servants.   In order to effectively serve the needs of students and community, I must always maintain a practice of letting go of my human burden of ego, and walking the extra mile with other individuals who present opposing views or challenging behaviors.

My interpretation of the Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount is that we all are the salt of the earth; and we all possess a light that has potential to benefit the world.  This sounds so simple out of context, but applied to teaching I believe this practice is simultaneously the most strenuous and rewarding calling of the profession.  In order to maintain a dialogue with children, families, colleagues, and wider community a teacher must be willing to let go of rigid ideas and listen to other’s perspectives with compassion and purpose.   At the same time, a teacher’s practice needs to be rooted in some foundation of ideology in order to foster a consistent classroom culture.  I think this balance will be my greatest struggle as I move into the role of lead classroom teacher.  I will be reaching out to more experienced educators for counsel as difficult questions of serving all my community in an integral way arise.

Professor Scheuerman also speaks to the absence of community elders in our modern culture, and calls to teachers to help young people anchor creation of personal identity in something other than the “tyranny of the peer group.”  I plan to include community elders in my classroom curricula as a means of providing children with a family experience to inform their growing sense of self.

In conclusion, if I wait until I have a “perfect” singing voice before I express myself as a new teacher; I will cheat my students out of a model who is willing to let go of ego, and view themself as interconnected with society.  Also, I would cheat myself out of the experience of being dynamic and fresh in my practice.  So, I plan to keep on singing loud and proud.  Maybe someday I will take lessons!

References:

Scheuerman, R.  (2014, July) Session 3 Ellis. Nature of the Profession [Web log post].  Retrieved from:  http://mountainlightschool.files.wordpress.com/2010/05/session-3-ellis-the-nature-of-the-profession.pdf

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