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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

If You're Lucky

If you’re lucky, you’ll be one good example. – Wendell Berry 
Darlene St. Georges, Branch II, 2011

We must tell the stories. We must tell an account of ourselves, tell what needs to be heard. There is so much noise in education.
“Mrs. Nelson, please call the office.” 
“Guaranteed to improve math levels by one full grade level in one year or your money back.” 
“You must take this exam seriously. It’s worth 50% of your grade.” 
“I’m concerned that my son is not learning basic literacy skills in your classroom.” 
“Province Cuts Education Budget by 8%” 
“I can’t spend time on that fun stuff. There’s not enough time. I have to cover the curriculum.”

Darlene St. Georges, Original Syntax, 2011

It is easy to despair. It is easy to become complacent, or cynical. The noise is exhausting. That is why it is even more important to tell our stories. The invitation is there. It’s really quite simple. We need to read, and appreciate how delicious language can be. We need to write, and talk, and tell what needs to be told. We need to listen. We need to listen deeply. There are openings here, for the very human gesture of response. And if we offer these opportunities, our students will rise to the invitation and will do things they never thought imaginable.

And we as teachers need to tell these stories. We need to tell of how we speak, how the words we use make our students not even think about asking for their grade at the end of a project. We need to share how we open up the possibility of our students to be artists, even in math class, and how this gives them permission to leap, no matter the consequences. We need to come from a place of our greatest strengths, but we, and our students, need to take risks and try new things. We need to show how education can be a practice of freedom, of opening up, rather than boxing in. We need to find a way for there to be more coulds than shoulds.
It’s a matter of practice. And we must practice it, to overcome this discourse of boxes and assembly lines and shoulds. We must be one good example. And be grateful that we are lucky enough to do so.
Darlene St. Georges, Tree, 2011

Inspired by the Provoking Curriculum Studies biennial conference, February 20 & 21st, 2015 in Vancouver, British Columbia.