... when I looked forward to starting school again. I loved getting ready -- planning the authors we'd read; developing lessons that were fun and creative; searching for new video clips or ideas to incorporate into my classroom; and, seeing students grow and learn about themselves in a new way.
That feeling is gone.
Now, lest you think I am wallowing in self-pity, I am not. Okay. Maybe a little. But, more than that, I am thinking about why the anticipation has been replaced by dread.
It comes to this.
Education has become a one size fits all. Instead of decisions being student driven, it is motivated by funding, government rules, or political beliefs. It has become a forum for making "everyone feel good about themselves" rather than challenging one to grow beyond their comfort level. It has become yet another forum for pop psychology instead of one of standards and the recognition that we need garbage collectors AND doctors. (Frankly, I adore my garbage collector every week; my doctor, well, a few times a year. Both have their place and role. One is not better than another, yet, in academia, there is a snobbery that the garbage collector has unrecognized potential and should aspire to more.) This is yet another reason the passion is gone; the failure to acknowledge that there are limits to ability and that some folks, to be honest, just aren't college material. And, by the way, that is perfectly okay.
Reporting - completers, retention, financial aid, assessment, recruiting -- are just a few of the ways an institution can spend time looking at itself and find ways to self-aggrandize as well as a way to avoid confronting the real issues -- academic freedom, academic standards, not to mention faculty salary and professional standards. Those instructors who are most popular carry teaching loads twice their colleagues, yet those colleagues remain mediocre because they tick the right boxes politically or through their academic rhetoric. There doesn't have to be substance, just compliance.
The jargon, the philosophies are more important than the ability to effectively meet a student where they are and lift them. Gatekeepers to programs or student goals impede success rather than inspire it. No one can say what power human desire and motivation can have over a low placement score or underdeveloped critical thinking skills. This hamstringing of weaker students destroys potential and, ultimately, deprives society of perhaps the next Einstein or Emerson. Neither were stellar students either, by the way.
And, so, here I am, one day from reentering a world that I feel I no longer belong, in which I feel I am a minority. I want to teach and be left alone by all the outside distractions. I want to spend this first week back on campus meeting with students, working on lesson plans, building enthusiasm for my content. I want to have my time respected. I want to feel appreciated, necessary, in a meaningful manner rather than spending my time checking the box for seeing so-and-so video or attending such-and-such meeting.
Teachers have a saying that, "what really matters is what happens when you close the door to your classroom." I am trying to hold on to this thought, this belief. I feel what a drowning person must feel. I gasp the air, hold my breath, and push up again.