Monday, January 18, 2016
Gifts That Can't Be Taken Away
MLK day has always been a holiday of reflection for me. How can we impact society? I read 1 Corinthians 12:1-11 in church yesterday. For my non-Christian friends, the reading involves each individual being given a talent or talents to be used for the common good. I know many teachers who have been awarded the gift of teaching and are being purposely kept from practicing their talent. Their teaching has been tested and refined by experience. They are now ATRs. They have been replaced with teachers who may or may not have this gift and have no experience. Many of these new teachers go through a terrible ordeal, much like Richard Harris in 'A Man Called Horse' or the guy in yesterday's NY Post http://nypost.com/2016/01/17/my-year-of-terror-and-abuse-teaching-at-a-nyc-high-school/ . Many, like the author of the book, quit. I've always regarded teaching as an art. You have it or you don't. The artists I've known would never let anyone or anything stop them. I used to watch Keith Haring creating his chalk drawings in the train stations on 23rd Street in the early 1980s. I didn't like his work, my brother loved it. Some people ridiculed his work -some did worse. Most experienced teachers went through similar experiences as the aforementioned author and didn't quit. What doesn't destroy you can make you stronger.
The deformers out there regard the teaching profession as a job anyone can do - the cheaper, the better. Let the experienced teachers, who love teaching and are true artists, stand around with their thumbs up their asses - being told to mop floors, sit in stairwells, file papers or sub in classes that resemble a Chuckie Cheese birthday party. Don't like it? 'Quit, motherf--ker! That's the whole idea! We're going to wait it out until you all quit or retire'. Call the union and all you'll hear is, "You're lucky to have a job, thanks to us!". None of that has stopped us from teaching and helping kids. None of that has made us quit or retire. For many ATRs this has become a personal moral battle. I go out of my way to talk to and help kids that are completely ignored by the overstressed, under experienced staffs of the schools I'm sent to. If we truly help at least one kid a day then we have accomplished our true calling and have not let them steal our gift of teaching.