Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Reflections of a BadAss Teacher – Year Two

Getting ready for work this morning, I experienced something I had never felt before.

I was not ready to go back to work.  

I am sure that my working at the school for four weeks during the summer had something to do with it.  But it was more than that.  Trying to pinpoint exactly what it was at first was hard.  Last year I had found BATs before going back in September.  Last September I was energized, excited, aware and awake. 

Where were these feelings this year?  BATs had worked hard over the past year, forming relationships in our fight against corporate education reform.  Strides had been made, bringing our pushback to a point that I had not predicted, that passed my expectations. 

So then I should be even more energized, right?  I should be strapping on my virtual boxing gloves and tightening those laces.

Why the hesitation this year?  Why the lack of enthusiasm to go into the classroom?  I could hardly believe that, as I got dressed this morning, I toyed with thoughts of finding yet another career, even though that would almost guarantee that I worked until the day that they wheeled me out on a stretcher.

Thinking about all of this as I sat in our opening day staff welcome sessions I thought about what had made me become a teacher in the first place.  We all know it wasn't for the money, (minimal) or the summers off, (a myth) or the 8am to 3pm workday (a joke).  So what was it.  Why had I become a teacher in the first place?  What had changed since then?

Sitting in these meetings, with three more days of meetings still ahea, I realized what had changed.  I knew what had shifted in focus this year.

The children.

The children have not changed.  They will always be these creatures with sponge-like brains that have new ways of doing things.  Different ways, that we as adults, will always struggle and race to keep up with.  That has not, and will never, change. 

But education no longer focuses on the children.  It has become a political tool that is used in an attempt to shift power.  To shift power from one political party to another, to shift power from the have-nots to the haves, to shift power from the people to those that rule their state with an iron fist.  From a field of study that was about best practices and learning theories to budgets and government control.  It is about data, information, political jockeying, market analysis, community segregation, ranking, test score comparison, and standardization. 

As a teacher, how can I focus on the children when so many other things are pushing in to take emphasis off of them, the ones that need us the most? 

As we enter another school year, I think it is important to reflect upon these things, to remember why we got into this fight in the first place.  To remember what it is all about.

The children. 

An after-thought. 

We all have our little ways of reading signs in the universe to reaffirm our choices, a barometer to check to see if we are on the right path.  My love for music tends to be one of mine.  Emotions that songs bring out in me are my reminder to stay true to myself.  As I was driving home today, my favorite 'revolution' song came on the radio.  I invite you to read through the lyrics.  To me, they are always a beacon call to keep fighting. 

                                           "Throwing Stones"
Picture a bright blue ball just spinning, spinning free
Dizzy with eternity.
Paint it with a skin of sky, brush in some clouds and sea
Call it home for you and me.
A peaceful place or so it looks from space
A closer look reveals the human race.
Full of hope, full of grace, is the human face.
But afraid, we may our home to waste.
There's a fear down here we can't forget hasn't got a name just yet
Always awake, always around singing ashes to ashes all fall down.
Now watch as the ball revolves and the nighttime calls
And again the hunt begins and again the bloodwind calls
By and by again, the morning sun will rise
But the darkness never goes from some men's eyes.
It strolls the sidewalks and it rolls the streets
Stalking turf, dividing up meat.
Nightmare spook, piece of heat, you and me, you and me.
Click, flash blade in ghetto night. Rudies looking for a fight.
Rat cat alley roll them bones. Need that cash to feed that jones
And the politicians throwing stones
Singing ashes, ashes all fall down.
Commissars and pin-striped bosses role the dice
Any way they fall guess who gets to pay the price.
Money green or proletarian gray, selling guns instead of food today.
So the kids they dance, they shake their bones
While the politicians throwing stones
Singing ashes, ashes all fall down.
Heartless powers try to tell us what to think
If the spirit's sleeping, then the flesh is ink.
History's page, it is thusly carved in stone
The future's here, we are it, we are on our own.
If the game is lost then we're all the same
No one left to place or take the blame.
We will leave this place an empty stone
Or this shinning ball of blue we can call our home
So the kids they dance, they shake their bones
While the politicians are throwing stones
Singing ashes, ashes all fall down.
Shipping powders back and forth
Singing "black goes south while white comes north"
And the whole world full of petty wars
Singing "I got mine and you got yours."
And the current fashions set the pace.
Lose your step, fall out of grace.
And the radical he rant and rage, Singing "someone got to turn the page"
And the rich man in his summer home,
Singing "Just leave well enough alone"
But his pants are down, his cover's blown
And the politicians are throwing stones
So the kids they dance they shake their bones
Cause its all too clear we're on our own
Picture a bright blue ball just spinning, spinning free
It's dizzying, the possibilities. Ashes, Ashes all fall down.

                                                                                                                                    John Perry Barlow



  1. This post is a sign from the universe that I have found my professional home with the BATs. I was preparing a lesson on the Blue Marble photo of Earth from space and this poem/song lyric is incredibly timely. Thank you for reminding us to fight for the children. By the way, who sang this song? I have to hear it... Solidarity!

  2. Oh--Grateful Dead...thanks for the reflective post. Music--yes!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.