The struggle for happiness is something I have coped with for the last few years. If you can believe it, this issue has nothing to do with my Fibromyalgia. It’s about being disillusioned by my current career and the turn education has taken. I know, I know, first world problems, right? I’m not hungry, my kids are fantastic, I have a great marriage and yet there’s a void.
Alright, I will admit that I’m not relegated to an office in Japan, working a fifteen-hour day, eating lunch at my desk and worrying about that I’ll probably be in this same exact spot in ten years. I don’t live in a place where it’s cold, rainy and depressing nor am I forced to work with terrible people, quite the opposite actually. I adore my work family.
I’m disenchanted with the turn of events in education in the last twenty years, when we became a testing nation, bought and sold by our very own government and beholden to groups such as Pearson. I sound like my grandmother but what the hell? I remember when we read books (some the teacher even got to pick), we wrote creatively and not to a prompt. Tests were designed by your teacher, and you could spend two weeks reading through Othello as a class and deciphering its meaning and how the play related to modern times. My eleventh grade teacher took us to a play called, “As Is”, about the AIDs epidemic and math was taught with patience and understanding.
Back in the day, as a child you were worried if the teacher called your mom, or if you failed a test. Telling your mom, you’re not passing would be the equivalent of smashing your fingers with a hammer, you just didn’t want to do it. What’s changed you ask?
Our kids have become so beaten down by testing, they literally cannot write a creative word or take a test that’s not multiple choice. Their parents are the product of the first negative changes within education, so if their child isn’t successful, it’s the school’s fault. There is very little accountability. The anger is palpable during parent meetings, a feeling of such intense fear of not knowing whether the parent is going to support you or lunge at you.
I remember when my aunt retired from education in New York City and was completely torn up by the testing requirements for kindergarten. Yes, that grade we went to school for a half a day and took a nap in. it’s disheartening. I didn’t go into education to do behavior modification first, focus on a curriculum that’s lost in a 50’s mentality and teach my students to a test. I certainly didn’t go into education to be abused by parents and threatened.
Going into education is a calling. I loved teaching literature and watching students light up as they found joy in the novel being dissected. Public education has changed and yet we’re not changing with the times. We allow cell phones, which distract students to no end, we reason with children (for the fifteenth time), parents can yell and scream and abuse educators, and so can students, by the way. We’re not trying to engage students, we’re handed a bone dry lesson, and text book developed by people who never taught. Don’t get me started on the comparisons between schools in affluent areas as opposed to the urban schools. Or the fact that teachers aren’t paid enough to be therapists, parents and disciplinarians.
I actually don’t know what to do. I’m writing this as a chance to vent. Maybe someone of importance can speak to the issues I’m raising. Perhaps there’s a teacher or administrator out there who has found happiness in a new career. I’m all ears.