Thursday, January 15, 2009
Dorothy was right. There's no place like home. Unfortunately, there's no school like home, either. At least not any more.
Despite my crabbing, I actually like my school very much. The students are great, the building is clean though overcrowded, and the administration leaves me alone to a great extent. Sometimes I wonder why I'm not happier in my school, considering the place I came from. Then today, it kind of hit me. My school isn't like home.
I don't expect them to provide me with a sofa and a big screen TV, but school used to be a lot more like home. Many of my teacher friends were close friends--not just 8-3 friends like I have now. Teachers prided themselves on how long they had been in a particular place--there was a sense of attachment and loyalty, just as in a family.
The teacher's lounge used to be a hub of social activity. Today, it's a place where you had better watch your words because there's bound to be someone around who'll report any negative comments to the administration.
It's the same for the students, I am sure. They come to school and are sent through the test prep grind. Teachers dare not bestow an encouraging pat on the back, and all joking is out the window, because God forbid if some student takes what you say the wrong way. Rubber room time.
School used to be like The Waltons. Everyone had their peccadilloes but we all basically got along and wanted the best for each other. These days, school is much more like Married with Children. My previous school was closer to the Manson family.
I don't think we'll ever make much progress in education until all the participants (I hate the word stakeholders) feel at home--as if they are part of an actual community. If anyone has any ideas on how we can achieve this, I'd love to hear.
It won't be easy. Bloomberg wants schools to be more like factories and less like Saturday night with the Cleavers.
I don't think we're in Kansas anymore.