Tuesday, 17 May 2011

...and they're off!

A reminder to those of us who are expecting good news from heaven, or in an email or in some mind-bogging mental acrobatic maneuver, or from some accident that will leave us brain-dead, or in the form of a human being that will make our emotional nightmares go away, or in some world conference announcement that education is alive and well somewhere in a fishing village, or in a confirmation of a conspiracy theory we supported in our last encounter with alcohol, or in the discovery of the straight-hair pill.
Well, the news is that good news can come from just across the alley. Keep an open mind.

Monday, 9 May 2011

life without blogging

It's been a while since my last post and despite all my honest and eager efforts, every time i sat down to write there was a distraction. It was simply not possible to sit down and devote myself to blogging. April is the cruellest month, but May is crueller.
May is the month of IB exams. This year I have eleven students from my English class and twenty from my wing taking exams. May is caught between examining stints. May is full of deadlines. May is before June which is also full of deadliness. May is before June, when one has to assess/evaluate/ponder on the school year that passed, when a feeling of cyclicity (and sometimes helplessness) creeps up on one, when closure is felt to be appropriate for some very obscure reason. May is the king of "Couldhavedoneland."
Arguably, it is not so for everyone. It is possible that I have taken on too much. Or that I take things too much at heart. Or that they f*ed me up my mum and dad. Or (and this gets the prize) that i am going through a mid-life crisis. Whatever the case, i still believe that an educator's life, esp. in secondary education, involves a number of paradoxes and almost counter-intuitive assumptions that need to be maintained in the execution of one's tasks and projects and the construction of the educator's persona within the context of personal, school and student culture.
The first problematic notion is constancy. The educator is required to be (a) constant that can function as a role-model, reference point, moral element, caring agent, secure option or simply a reminder. As an individual the educator must ensure that her own growth, development, disillusionment, frustration et c. will not affect her persona and therefore disrupt her image in a way that could create feelings of insecurity to the students.
The second issue is the observer status of the educator. Almost in classical-greek-tragedy-chorus mode, the ongoing commentary is about the protagonist and the educator may have the clarity of vision that is required but none of the means or the jurisdiction to participate in the action.
To make matters worse, a teacher experiences loneliness and exclusion when her students are surrounded by a culture that is not shared; very often a culture she is not part of or a culture that she is struggling to enter. The new media or the modus operandi of certain social networks are examples of cultures that educators my age inhabit as a right, but are not entitled to. The media are part of the students' education, if not the primary agent of education in certain contexts. The dynamics of power and the spheres of influence are not distributed equally.
Ideological and pedagogical ambivalence does not help either. One has to believe in the system, its philosophy, its structure, its function and its functionaries. Criticism must remain within certain boundaries to avoid any cracks in the artifice of formal education. But at the end of the day, research and all taken into consideration, isn't it all largely a question of faith?

What is more, saying goodbye every year is not easy. And some years it is more difficult than others.
I apologize for the philosophical/confessional whining. My only excuse (to translate broadly and quote Maurice Dryon) is that "nothing is renewed, created, discovered without the motivating cause, as eternal as the sea, of our discontent."