Saturday, August 9, 2014
It's a Catastrophe Until It's Not
It's interesting to me how we tend to go from things being catastrophic to things just being how they are in a relatively short period of time. In an example from my other job, the one I actually get paid to do, one of the big issues is common core. It's chock full of high stakes testing that a large portion of teachers realize is wrong in a lot of ways. It leads to teaching to the test, it takes away time from instruction, it doesn't (despite what its creators claim) teach higher level thinking skills--I could go on and on.
When this idea was presented, teachers protested loudly. And no, it's not because we're lazy louts who got into teaching because of the summer break. Countries that are the most successful educationally are doing the opposite of what we're doing. Less testing and more autonomy for teachers. Good teaching takes place when teachers are treated like professionals who have been trained to do this job. Do we have a group of non-doctors making medical decisions instead of doctors? Well, that may be a little more political than I want to get into.
But the point I'm trying to make is that, once common core became the law of the land, many of its promoters pointed to changes in polls among teachers. They said that many of the teachers no longer were against the high-stakes testing. But, as a teacher who has teacher friends, I can tell these people that the data isn't telling them what they think it is. What they're seeing is acquiescence to the reality of the situation, not agreement with it. What it's telling them is that teachers are realists and that, until the law of the land changes, we will do what we've always done--work within the requirements, trying our best to give your children the best education possible. We can yell and scream about it and, yes, work to get this misguided law changed, but until it is changed, it's what we have.
That's life in general. We rarely have perfect circumstances. We just have what we have. When something bad comes along, it feels catastrophic at first, but eventually becomes the law of the land, so to speak, and we just do our best to work within it. Take my back, for instance. Earlier this week, I woke up in the night with cramps in my lower back. I've had back issues in the past, but I've lost weight and have been exercising and haven't had a problem for quite a while. Well, it appears my achy back is, well, back. The next morning, I was ready to just give up. No position except flat in bed was even remotely comfortable. So I did nothing, literally, other than watch TV and feel sorry for myself.
The next day, my back still hurt. I still had no comfortable way to sit up. But guess what? I didn't continue to lie around. No, I didn't go out and mow the grass, but I did clean the kitchen, take out the trash, go to the store (for more Salon Pas patches, which I'm convinced come directly from God), and get some writing done. And yes, my back hurts right now. But I'm 2300 words from my goal of 7000 words by today and I'm going to make it.
I'm not bragging. I'm not saying I'm a tough guy who can work through the pain. Truth is, I'm a big baby when it comes to that. I'm just making an observation about human nature. We often say things are unbearable, but then end up bearing them. How? I'm not sure. For me, it's with the help of God, family, and friends. I don't have any idea how folks without those three things make it.