my_window_seat: (Frances Farmer)
I've had some stuff on my mind quite a bit lately that I still haven't been able to sort all the way, and as I'm not feeling 100% at the moment, I'm probably not going to be able to puzzle through much of it just yet, either.

But I had my DVR appointment with Nadine today, and it brought to a head a lot of what I've been muddling with.

DVR, just to give catch-up here, is the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation.  I got on board with them back in 2003, after my brief but colorful visit to the Funny Farm.  DVR's purpose is to get people who are disabled in one way or another back into shape to be able to be self-sufficient and self-supporting - something I definitely needed.

Unlike most social service agencies, DVR is funded through the Department of Education, which makes them a more flexible agency and one that can provide a number of services not available elsewhere.  They also have a particular interest, naturally, in education, so a large portion of their clients are assisted in - you guessed it - getting back to school.

That's how I ended up on the path that's brought me where I am now.

I'm a 4.07 student.  I'm a member of several honor societies, and have been on the Dean's List at my junior college, the four-year school I'm at now, and the National Dean's List.  Hoorah, bells and whistles, yadda yadda.

I'm scheduled to graduate May of next year.

And honestly - I'm still not sure What I'm Going to Be When I Grow Up.

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a teacher.  I remember that one of my favorite possessions was an old school desk that was left behind in the garage of the house that I lived in briefly with my mom and stepdad.  I used to make lesson plans from my favorite books and television shows.  Two of my favorite book series' were Little House on the Prairie and Anne of Green Gables - both of which feature main characters who eventually become school teachers.

The problem with this childhood goal - being a teacher - is that it's been based on a model of education that hasn't existed in this or any other country in almost a century.  It used to be that all one had to do was go to a teaching college for a few years, and then they'd turn you loose with a classroom full of children - and you were pretty much on your own after that.  Aside from the few times a School Superintendent might come for a visit, assuming you performed adequately enough to get kids in and out of your classroom with a dose of Reading, Writing and 'Rithmetic, you were assumed to be competent and let to do as you would.

It's not like that anymore. 

I probably would have been a good teacher in those days.  Given a few tools and a minimum of supervision, I've been able to accomplish a fair few miraculous things in my time with kids.

I originally dropped out of college eons ago because I knew that my stubborn inability to mesh with 'systems' and fit into 'models' was incompatible with the way education is run now.  When I went back to school with DVR's help, I didn't originally go back with the intent to teach, either.  At that point, just getting enough education to get me out of dead-end retail and office environments was my only real goal.  I didn't have sufficient belief in my own abilities to aim for anything other than that.  I thought, hey, I'll get a certificate for Graphic Design and get some simple job doing layout somewhere.  Play with some shiny toys and call that good.

I went back to school.  I did surprisingly well - but realized I wasn't as creative in the design kind of way as I'd thought I might be.  I saw kids half my age pulling stuff out of their ears that I wouldn't have been able to do myself, and I knew that wasn't the right direction.

I rediscovered my love of words again, and thought, okay, maybe Journalism then.  I changed my education plan at DVR - but within just a few months, I started to have that nagging idea come back to me.  Teaching.  Realizing that the difference between how good one class was compared to another class was not in the subject as often as it was in the person teaching it.  Coming back again to that idea that, while I'm not as gifted as many of my friends, I've been able to help other people refine their own abilities and grow stronger in them.  The old adage, "Those who can, do:  those who can't, teach" isn't really the derogative that it's meant to be when looked at in the right kind of light.  I may not have the same kind of talent as I see in those around me - but I can see it - and I've been able to help other people be able to see that for themselves.

But I'll never have a one room school house out in the middle of a chunk of frontier.  They don't exist anymore.  I was born about a hundred years too late for that.

Now I'm graduating in a year, and I don't know what I'm going to do with my fairly useless degree.

In the last couple years, I've made forays into researching how to get into teaching.  Every time I have, the shape of the system makes my head hurt.  The educational field has its own language and codes of conduct and - and - and -

I swear to god, sometimes I feel like a smart person - and then I stare that stuff in the face and it makes my head swim.
And I look at the kids that I work with, and I can't see that the system is helping them.
And I look at what it would take to get into that system, and I can't see any way that I can jam myself into it.
I can't even understand it well enough to climb the walls - and what I see on the other side -
It makes me sick.

When I ran into my teacher on campus the other day, Brian, I was talking to him about how I'd been looking into getting into a program overseas that would end in teaching certification in another country.  His first reaction was an interesting one - he referred to me as "an educator with a particular interest in Social Justice" - something that took me aback for a moment.  I guess I hadn't thought of my goals in those terms before, but it made a kind of sense.  He then pointed out the fact that by going to another country, I'd have to learn the challenges of a completely different society - that at least here, I knew what was wrong and had some idea of what I had in myself to work towards making things better.  I came back with, but I'm so fucking tired of the ways things are here - I feel like I really need to see the way things are somewhere else, even if it only results in my coming back here with a new appreciation for a country that I really don't feel like I belong in right now.  We eventually compromised in our cross-purposed talk, and Brian told me to make an appointment with him after school starts again so that we can start looking into different programs, both here and overseas, and look for something with the best fit.

I like that idea.  I'm going to definitely make that appointment.

But when I was talking to Nadine today, she pretty much rejected that idea out of hand.  She wants me to start talking to a Job Development counselor and look at what I'll be able to do just with the degree that I'll be getting.  I'm going to do this - but I know that there's going to be a much greater challenge in this than there is with most of her clients, who are getting much more straightforward degrees in things like Engineering or Business or what have you.  There's not a specific industry geared for a person with a Theatre Education degree - especially one that doesn't give one license to teach in a standard school system.

The one bright spot in the appointment - not that it was a bad appointment, just challenging - is that Nadine's going to get me started seeing my old counselor/therapist/life coach again.  If nothing else, it will be good to get that going again.  Mark's a very clarifying person, and being able to reestablish that relationship will be very helpful.


Betwixt, bothered and bewildered* - that's me.

This is a shapeless sort of entry, but that's how I'm feeling at the moment.  Formless around the edges.  Certain, really, of  nothing - other than my uncertainty.

"And there it is - too many notes."

Tired now.

Night, all.

* Apologies to George Gershwin for the mangled paraphrasing.
my_window_seat: (Default)
Being back in school - and more specifically, now finally being in a position to be in classes that have to do with what really interests me, namely art - well, it's reminding me of the contradictory feelings I've always have about the purpose of education in art, namely that it can be both instrumental and detrimental - it can be either or both necessary and dangerous.

For example: I've been assigned to read both Aristotle's and Castelvetro's theories on poetics - the term then used to refer to theatre, go fig - and both of them, though they differ on many points, agree that there are supposed to be very specific rules for how comedy and tragedy should be constructed.

The thing is this - part of me feels that, in order to most effectively create, it's beneficial to know what the 'rules' are in order to better break them. On the other hand, some of the most amazing leaps forward in the arts have come from 'outsiders', i.e., people who have no knowledge at all of the 'rules' - or even that there are any. While it's impossible to know for sure, some theorists say that Shakespeare can't possibly have known the theories of poetics - and yet other theorists use his work to illustrate their own points about the necessities put forward by those same constructions.

The short form - I wonder how much my education is going to help or hinder me. Is it the mind 'unshadowed by thought' that has the greatest chance of reaching the heights, or are we meant to 'stand on the shoulders of giants' - necessitating knowing enough about them to scale them?


I think it's probably six of one, half dozen of the other.

About the only thing I know for sure is that I have a deep-seated streak of resentment towards anyone or anything that puts any kind of restrictions or limitations on me. Which makes me wonder what kind of a teacher I'm going to be - about the only thing I can think is that I'm going to want to encourage that same kind of rebelliousness to codified thought in my students.

Why do I think that this is going to make for a whole lot of challenges in my future career....?

Yeah - that's a purely rhetorical question. ;)
my_window_seat: (Default)
You know, today I answered the question of yesterday's maundering musings.

Today I was reminded of why I'm doing all this.

By 'all this' I mean going through all the headache of getting through school to one day be a teacher.

Today was another one of those small validations. One of those few and far between but essential moments that make me go - well yeah - this is what I'm supposed to be doing.

In my Communication for Teachers class we were all assigned the task of preparing a short teaching session. Each of us has to make up 'homework' for our 'class' and then orchestrate a discussion period based on the material that our 'students' have completed. We each had five classmates assigned to us as our students for this exercise, and we 'teach' them in a sort of performance mode in front of the rest of the communications class as they take notes on how we do. Our teaching session is supposed to be run as a discussion period with our 'students, and has to follow a lot of mumbo-jumbo communications matrices and and a bunch of other touchy-feely shit, and we have to script it out to include praise and certain modeling questions designed to promote different aspects of cognitive thought, blah blah blah -

So anyway, I put together a packet of homework based on the different types of stages used in theatre throughout history. I created an activity at the end designed to allow them to use what they'd learned to think up a simple idea for a show and choose what they felt would be the appropriate staging for it.

Bearing in mind that these are adults in a communications class, not theatre students, there were a few understandably weak smiles of polite compliance when I slapped down the 12-page packet for them to read and complete for my teaching session two days later (today).

See, the reason I think I'm doing the right thing -

These guys really got into this.

The future science teacher - designed a children's show of 'Little Red Riding Hood' with flexible staging so that his performers could interact with the audience.

One girl came up to me after class to show me her 'homework' because 'I had fun doing this. I was hoping you'd call on me so I could show it to you.' This from the young lady who hardly ever says a word in class unless called on to do so. She designed an Arena staging of Psyche and Cupid 'to illustrate the conflict of desire and hope' - and I wish I could remember how else she phrased it. It was fucking beautiful.

The guy who's going to be a history teacher - wrote a synposis of a fairy tale with a little boy who's best friends are a donkey and a turnip - yes, that would be another children's show. He designed it for a Proscenium stage so that he could incorporate an intricate set and pyrotechnics. When I asked him what Russian folk tale he'd gotten his story from, he said 'It's just something I made up. I want to make a few calls and get my facts straight on the technical stuff, but I think I need to really write it up now, you know, finish it. This was really neat.'

With just a few bits of historical reference and diagramed illustrations and an exercise in creativity, I got a handful of disinterested adults to really enjoy the idea of being their own producers.

And I didn't do anything magical. I just let them learn how to create their own magic.

This is it. This is why I want to do what I want to do.

Because goddamn it - I'm good at it.


There, I said it.

That's why I want to do the impossible, or so it seems most days.

Because it's the only thing really worth doing to me.

And so then.

my_window_seat: (Default)
If I'd finished this thing even one day ahead of schedule I'd be pleading for offers to proof it. But I didn't, and I can't. This is the way it goes in. So it is printed, so mote it be.

I submit for your approval, rejection, or ignoring enjoyment:

Climbing Up the Down Staircase: How effective communication can reverse the effects of student downward mobility )

Maybe I'm wrong, but I think I totally rock the titles when I write papers. Why is it then that I suck so hard at writing titles for poems? And that I tend to end my papers with an overly gushy (and sometimes downright scary) kind of optimism that I rarely visibly display In Real Life?

Ponder, ponder, ponder...

my_window_seat: (Default)
[EDITED - text of article now behind the clicky. No more evil passwords.]

If you are planning on one day being an educator, you should make sure your ass is acquainted with the sociology and politics of the world you are going to be teaching in. Regardless of what age or grade you are going to teach, you should be EDUCATED IN THIS SHIT, damn it. )

If you 'can't be bothered' or find it 'too difficult to think about' -

Please do everyone a favor and go into another fucking line of work.


[EDIT: In all honesty, I should note for the record that I used to be in the "can't be bothered/too difficult to think about" camp.

And I fully acknowledge that these kinds of things are hard to think about, and frequently are frustrating beyond belief.

I sometimes feel soiled by the things that I read and see, and want to do nothing more than preserve what little spark of faith in humanity I have left by sticking my head so far down a hole that I smother in my own carbon monoxide exhalations.

And then there's someone like this guy - who lays the ugly picture out and eviscerates it completely, lays open the rotten, festering guts in all their technicolor splendor - and then proposes to do something about it.

That's the thing - it's not enough to bemoan the state of things being bad and in need of some serious fucking Marshall Planning - you have to then get in there and think and talk and then act on how you think it can be changed for the better.

So, yeah.

If you're used to being an ostrich, as I certainly was, it's possible to change that.

Don't be a pussy - your students deserve better.]

The above comments are directed at no one in particular, and definately not at anyone on my Friends List. The management however reserves the right to fling monkey poo in the general direction of the rest of the universe as and when warranted.

The management also reserves the right to delete and repost this entry with corrections, thereby bumping it back up on your Friends Page once again, in case you missed it the first time or just didn't want to deal with the evil clicky-password-thingie, which has been fixord. Nyah.


my_window_seat: (Default)

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