Why I’ve just been sitting down and reading/listening

Because I realize thats what I need to do. 

I’ve spent my professional 20s making a difference! Right out of college I went to Chicago to use my energy to bring positive change. Ah, youthful ignorance. After six years I was exhaustednot that hopefuland I left. I don’t regret it, though I wonder about the unintended consequences of my actions.

I’ve taken a step back because I realize even our best ideas have unintended consequences that need to be recognized.

Here are a few things I believe

  • Schools should not compete against one another for funding. All schools need to be adequately funded. Competition does not lead to improved educational outcomes for most children.
  • Schools that are labeled failing don’t need to be threatened to closed, they need support to improve. The same goes for teachers. Evaluation systems should not be punitive  but informative, for students, teachers, and schools.

I have many other beliefs, and they continue to evolve. On this blog I’ve shared what I thought about LIFO teacher layoffs, the Chicago Teachers Union Strike, Value Added Measurements for teacher evaluations, and Charters schools as reform. All of those topics are more complex than I understood at the time I wrote them, and in some issues I think differently now.

In the past six months to a year I feel like I have stepped back from focusing on solutions. Moving has been a big transition, and it has led to personal reassessment.  I’ve been invigorated at my new school, and I love teachingI’ve also been reading a lot of books and listening to discussions.

Even now that I find myself in a very good situation for me personally, I question many things. As I’m able to flourish professionally, I also realize there is so much I don’t understand. I’m more aware of how systems are set up for some people to be successful at the expense of others, and my location and identity in those systems.
There are so many articles about how children from wealthy families are doing just fine, and how white privilege is marginalizing voices everywhere in society, from the justice system, feminism and mediaeven in education. There are enlightening articles about Colonial philanthropy, and insight to the righteous anger of marginalized voices. I have found all these to challenge me to listen, understand, and question my assumptions.
I’m not feeling the need to defend myself, alternative certification, or charter schools as much. I see there are benefits and drawbacks of everything, everything. I’m doing a better job of not taking it personally. I’ve been there, and I’ve felt like I’ve been attacked personally, and it felt awful and mean, (similar to this).
There is a lot of distrust and shenanigans, with reason. I don’t want to say something that is not well informed or that will get me attack.
And I’m comfortable. I feel safe enough where I’m at not to have to worry about a lot of this stuff. While it may have an effect on me, I feel like I’m in a bubble. So why should I insert myself into a fight?
I have been trying to get through Open Veins of Latin America for over 6 months. It has been a heavy, dense read, one that details disastrous imperialistic actions the United States and other countries have committed in Latin America for centuries. I see many parallels to the challenges we face today with the past.
When George Canning, the brains of the British Empire, was celebrating its worldwide triumphs in 1823, the French chargé d’affaires had to swallow the humiliation of this remark: “Be yours the glory of victory followed by disaster and ruin, be ours the inglorious traffic of industry and an ever growing prosperity.… The age of chivalry is gone; and an age of economists and calculators has succeeded.”
And it makes me think of this song.
I’m proud of the work I do. I think I work hard and I’m always trying to be better. But I am in a position of comfort. So what do I do? Now that I recognize this, how do I move forward? Intentionally.

One response to “Why I’ve just been sitting down and reading/listening

  1. First, I find OVOLA a really difficult book to get through too. Every few pages, I found myself enraged, so it took me a couple of months as well.

    As for the content of your blog, so long as you are willing to listen and learn, you’re in a good space. things tend to work themselves out. We need to constantly have these conversations to learn, just as we expect our students to.

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