"Kindness is the greatest floss..." from The Razor's Edge

When I was in college working at Muir's Drug Store on Michigan Avenue, I remember reading an article about a "rudeness syndrome" that was sweeping the country. Part of the problem, the author felt, was the younger generation's lack of concern for humanity and continual focus on self. I could not stop laughing when I read it! Interestingly though, as I shared the article with friends, family, and co-workers, they agreed with the author! That was in the seventies, and I am happy to report that forty some years later, a New York Times writer, Nicholas Kristof, believes that people are getting nicer. Well, it's about time, don't you think!!

About Me

Who am I?  I don't really know the full answer to that yet.  Twenty years ago, I was an aspiring, beginning teacher who rattled on down the highway from Michigan in an old AMC Gremlin that my grandfather, Elmo May, gave me.  There were no jobs in Michigan just as there are few jobs in Michigan today!  With a degree from Michigan State University in Secondary English Education, minor in bilingual education, and a Masters of Science in Secondary Reading from Indiana State University, I felt excited about the possibilities of my new job at Martin Middle School as a teacher of migrant students.  The migrant students of Michigan aren't like the migrant students of Texas, I found out.  Migrant status was conferred upon any student whose family had moved for the purposes of agriculture any time within the prior five years.  My middle schoolers didn't move about any more for the most part.  They did, when they were younger, but most didn't remember where they went, only what they picked.  Curriculum for my migrant reading classes?  Whatever I could create, pull together, find, buy.  I remember that these were some of my first shocks in education.  NO materials?!  Really?!   Good heavens!  And so it was, and so it turned out to be for much of my teaching experience.  I could manage because as a graduate of either of my programs, I was a curriculum designer.  That's what our projects were.  That's what we were asked to do.  I don't see that so much anymore.  Twenty years later, our teachers are given "road maps" and "annual overviews" that dictate exactly, I mean EXACTLY, what the curriculum will be and for how long.  Education jumped feet first into following the business model.  We want data; we want calendars; we want value add!  If we can't hire people who can get along with this system's model, then we don't want them. Creativity?  Not sure we have room for that...perhaps after testing...
I do believe that people are our greatest assets; that teachers must teach students to think, and always to think for themselves.  My philosophy of life is one of caring, sharing, and enjoying the seasons.  Seasons being a metaphor for changes.  As we grow and change as people, some of the things we value will morph. If we can accept the fact that we are preparing students to not only be good citizens of this earth, but to be adaptable, I think we will come closer to a more realistic and strong model of what we are doing in education today.  As we work with these young leaders today, I am optimistic that we can do that!