Perhaps I’ve Been Inhaling Too Many Industrial Fumes…
Alternative title for this post: My Personal Crisis of Identity and Resulting Virtual Mind Dump
I think this one is going to be a doozy, folks. (And right after I was named in the top 100 ed-blogs…let’s hope they don’t take it back.)
This whole mental crisis began after I read the following piece which makes the argument that teachers are becoming little more than factory workers. Granted, this is not the most original metaphor, nor is the idea of efficiency models of education. Historically, we have been reduced to cogs before, but I can totally see where this guy is going in light of current crap coming down the old political pike.
I mean, check this out. He writes, “The notion that teachers should be highly skilled in developing relationships is commonplace at the elementary level, but discussions of education reform, both locally and nationally, continue to ignore the central role academic relationships play at all levels of education.”
Shall we all just high five now? Because talk about being right on the money. I guess considering the role of relationships in education would (*gasp*) involve talking to and taking seriously the thoughts and experiences of ACTUAL TEACHERS.
I KNOW! I said it out loud! You will be happy to know that no, lighting has not struck me yet. YET.
Okay, if you clicked over to the actual article I’m referring to, you’ll notice that then the author says this, “The latest education reforms suggested by the U.S. Secretary of Education and leaders in the Pittsburgh Public Schools are more enlightened than those of the past…” which kind of made my skin crawl, but let’s just stick to the whole idea of teachers undergoing a crisis of identity and lack of voice, shall we?
Moving along, I will now bring you into my doctoral life where I am desperately trying to finish my dissertation on teachers’ constructions of their professional identities and how the context in which they work either positively or negatively impacts those constructions. Basically, I’m in interested in how TEACHERS define THEMSELVES and THEIR ROLES and how THEY THINK their school context impacts all of that good stuff.
Again with the whole considering the voices of actual teachers thing. Maybe I’m out of control. Or maybe I’ve hit the nail right on the head. The nail which The Powers That Be are missing time and time again. (They must have very sore thumbs.)
Do I think my dissertation is going to change the world? Uh, no. I mean, if I’m honest with myself I know that no one is ever going to actually read this thing, nor would I EVER subject anyone to that kind of torture HOWEVER…
it has led me to do a great deal of reading around the idea of teacher identity.
(And by “great deal” I mean overwhelming amount. We’re talking crap loads of reading here, people.)
And do you know what I’ve learned??? That teachers tend to consider the influence of the larger political climate surrounding education, the dynamics of their own school site and combine all that with their own relationships with colleagues and students as well as their personal biographies when forming their sense of identity as a teacher.
(I know…SO MANY WORDS.)
Really, what I’m saying is…WE consider a whole lot of people and factors when thinking about ourselves and our work. Yeah, we consider ALL THOSE THINGS while running around like crazy people trying to educate our friends to the best of our ability. Talk about MULTI-TASKING!!
Yet somehow, those Powers That Be (a.k.a. D-bags In Suits) refuse to consider us.
And when reforms fail? Who gets blamed? Teachers. And who feels guilty? TEACHERS. Who ducks the finger? The Powers That Be. Seriously, I’m not sure how they sleep at night.
Perhaps if one of them, JUST ONE TO START, was capable of multi-tasking or looking at both the big picture and the realities of the classroom, you know, like a teacher? Maybe then we would be in a much better place.