Slow teaching

This is John, my son. John is brilliant, creative, cute (see picture), and loving.  I’m proud to say that he’s also a slow learner.

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Lately he’s shown an interest in teaching. As one who has dedicated much of my life to the profession, this fills my heart with pride and sorrow. I can think of no other person more suited to the challenges of teaching. John is at once playful and deeply reflective, compassionate and level-headed, imaginative and practical. He is fascinated by the unique complexity of each child’s gifts. And he loves them. Still, I want to warn him and tell him to do anything else with his life but spend it in classrooms. I want to tell him to run screaming from the oversized institutions of education with their constrictions, their bureaucracies, their political agendas, their state-mandated curricula, their inhumane treatment of persons (both students and teachers) who may not fit into prescribed molds quickly or easily, their insistence on reducing human potential to measurable standards.

At the same time, I want to celebrate with him, offer tips on classroom management and ideas for lesson plans, decorate his bulletin boards, recommend a reading list, brainstorm ideas with him, help him to create for his students an environment where he and they can grow to be independent thinkers who care about their communities, empowered to save the world.

John knows how important education is. If he’s really bound to teach, I don’t think there’s anything I could say or do to keep him out of the classroom. He and his cohorts will have to reinvent ways to reach students in spite of the broken systems that may someday employ him.


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