The World That I Teach In

I am staying away from the television and newspapers today. Everyone else seems glued to the news of another shooting on another college campus. But I prefer not to hear one more thing about violence in a school setting. I am a Teacher.

In one more month I will be marking the 30th year since I graduated with a degree in Elementary Education from Oklahoma Christian College and began my teaching career. Those thirty years have seen a drastic change in Education. Curriculums have changed. Textbooks have changed. Testing measures have changed. Classroom designs have changed. Playgrounds have changed. School lunches have changed. Public attitudes have definitely changed.

Along with correct drinking fountain skills, jump rope rhymes, learning to get along with others, planting seeds in paper cups and an ever broadening spectrum of formal academic skills, I am now required to have my Kindergarten class participate in ‘lock down drills’ as well as tornado and fire drills. We must teach anti-bullying lessons in our classrooms. Parents need to report to the office for a ‘visitor’ sticker before coming to a classroom to help. Birthday treats need to be scanned for peanut/chocolate/lactose and gluten allergies. Our office staff will soon need medical degrees for all of the medications they dispense during the day. And we need to ease worries about gun toting citizens storming into schools. Did we really worry about that 30 years ago? I wonder if I would have proceeded down the path of a teaching career had someone given me a look into a crystal ball. Probably.

You see, one thing has not changed in 30 years. The mind of the child. The mind that yearns for stimulation and fun. The mind that very literally soaks up the information that is tossed their way, processes it and then tosses it back out into the world with their own stamp of approval. The mind that looks for a reason behind everything and tries to make it fit in the world they know.

Childhood has certainly changed…just as education has. Our children have seen the very news reports and written pieces that I am avoiding today. Even five year olds know about war in far away places. They know about food kitchens and children who do not have socks to wear and blankets to wrap up in. They know about allergies and illnesses that could take their friends away forever. Try as we might, we simply cannot keep them in their own little bubble of innocence any more. They will see….they will know….and ultimately they will change the world we are handing over to them. It is our job as Teachers…and Parents….to give them the tools for change.

So….we will teach them to read and to write and to measure angles and sort things with common attributes. We will keep them safe with lock down drills…..and teach them to problem solve. We will guard them from peanuts and chocolate and lactose and gluten and bee stings and strangers……and teach them to take care of their bodies. We will toss worms back into the grass after a rainstorm and capture spiders in our classroom to be released to safety outside. We will teach them to guard the gifts of the earth. Guard them very carefully. We will keep singing songs about vowels and bubble gum and monkeys jumping on the bed….and teach them to laugh. We will encourage them to collect cans for food kitchens, blankets for shelters and pennies for the Leukemia Foundation. We will cheer as they jump for the American Heart Association. We will keep the world of gun men and wars and hunger and sick at bay for a while every day…….and give children the innate self esteem to know that they have the power to change things. We are Teachers after all….and that is what we do. Every single day in this crazy world. We teach.

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One Comment on “The World That I Teach In”

  1. marymurtz Says:

    You’re my hero, you really are. And I love knowing that my daughter will have a kindergarten teacher soon, and hope he or she is on the same wavelength as you.

    You have managed to give me hope for my daughter’s school years.


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