The principal goal of education in the schools should be creating men and women who are capable of doing new things, not simply repeating what other generations have done; men and women who are creative, inventive and discoverers, who can be critical and verify, and not accept, everything they are offered.
What keeps this teacher awake at night isn’t Common Core State Standards or 21st Century Skills or Educating the Whole Child or Social and Emotional Wellness or etc, it’s this: what am I doing to help the next Johnny Marr?
Here’s what Marr had to say about his teachers in his autobiography, Set the Boy Free:
He was an eccentric man who brought a big green parrot called Major to school with him every day. Major was a big talker and had a cage in the classroom, and every hour Mr. Quinlan would let him fly around the room, causing mayhem and landing on pupils’ heads.
Eccentric man? Check. But I don’t have a parrot, dammit.
One afternoon I was leaving class when [Miss Cocane] called me back to talk to her. I stood beside her desk, hoping I wasn’t in trouble, and listened attentively as she lit a cigarette and said, “You have something that you should be aware of. What do you think about being an artist?” I listened to what she was saying and it sounded good. “You can go two ways,” she continued, “you can get bored and into trouble, or you can find something you like and be good at it, and be an artist.” She sounded kind and concerned, and I knew she was serious. “But it’s not easy,” she said. “You have to work really hard.”
No smoking in the classroom, dammit. Also, “kind and concerned” is well beyond my skill set.
The very first art lesson was memorable. The teacher, Mr. Addis, started off with an explanation of the Union Jack and why it was such a poor design. I warmed to the theme immediately, having always disliked the national flag for its association with racist skinheads, and viewing it as aesthetically lazy and charmless. Mr. Addis then instructed us to design our own national flag, and I took to the task enthusiastically…
Hey! I actually did that! We read this guy’s obituary and then designed national flags.
Let me thereby be rated Exemplary (at least on “Furthers Rock”).
PS Report to Room 400 for Paul Westerberg’s teachable moment.