Democracy vs. (or with) Anarchy

it should be noted before you read further that i am working off of the following definitions:

democracy – an improbable experiment on the path to fruition of the promise of unalienable rights of citizens (read humans) to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

anarchy – the name given to a principle or theory of life and conduct under which society is conceived without govt. – harmony in such a society being attained not by submission to law or by obedience to any authority but by free agree concluded between the various groups, territorial and professional freely constituted for the sake of production and consumption and also for the satisfaction of the infinite variety of needs and aspirations of a civilized being.

i am not sure which is more viable… or which one is truly what it supposes to be by definition. not even too sure of the definitions or the validity of the available definitions. but they are both systems that i have been trying to get a better understanding of lately. whether through an organized reading circle that meets once a month, or a rebroadcast lecture of sociologist Parker Palmer on the drive back to a friend’s from a solo dining experience consisting of time for self reflection, nostalgia, and sushi….. it seems that my ponderings continue to connect in the oddest places. or maybe the most logical of places. this under utilized blog is another attempt to connect these free floating ideas to each other and perhaps to you…

my thoughts are incomplete on purpose. still digesting the information i have explored of late on these themes.

That’s what I’m screaming about Pt. II

i am so sick of “revolutionary” or “social justice” urban educators saying that there are more important things to worry about in the hood than global warming. the environment is not a priority issue. or, “people of color don’t go camping! we don’t belong outside!” yes i have actually been told that. in however much serious a statement like that was intended to muster, there are serious implications behind it. the environmental movement is accepted as a movement primarily for affluent white culture. the green media hype (Planet Earth, An Inconvenient Truth, 11th Hour, etc. – not to mention hurricane Katrina) has lessened this somewhat. realizing that even though you may be part of an urban community, there is still another larger community that needs to be experienced in order to appreciate and subsequently to assist. i am glad this middle school teacher in Harlem knows what’s up!

teachers of the year… and the winner is…

what makes a teacher worthy of a title like teacher of the year? one of my colleagues was nominated and subsequently dubbed a teacher of the year for a certain region. i love him. he is my department chair as well as my friend. but i doubt that these were the reasons for his recent title.

so what does make a teacher qualify for teacher of the year. i am not going to lie and say i looked up the criteria for this. i wouldn’t do so not because of lack of interest but for fear of navigating a district website. but even if i were to find out the criteria, which i could just as easily ask my friend, i wonder if i would agree with what makes a great teacher.

my wife is a great teacher. she cares genuinely about her students, or should i say authentically as the theory suggests? she works very hard to serve her students as best as she can. she strives to improve upon her practice and is very reflective of such a process. she is dedicated and willing to see error as an opportunity for improvement. yet recently she was to share her periodic assessment data (the standardized tests our district has our students take in between the state standardized tests periodically) with a room full of principals. this protocol, which was facilitated by UEP and designed to analyze the data reflected from the tests to begin to develop ways to improve test scores (which maybe the problem right there) instead took on a hostile tone towards the sharing teacher, who was present while these principals apparently forgot the previously stated objectives of the protocol. but more importantly what they forgot was that we are dealing with human beings here. human beings that have feelings, needs (both emotional and physical), prior experiences, desires, all that goes along with human nature.

which brings me back to my original question; what makes a teacher a great teacher, worthy of recognition for teacher of the year? are they looking for teachers who can produce data that “they” tell us we want to see? how close are we then to mechanized teaching done simply by numbers and “objective” data? or is a great teacher more than that? are they in fact measuring teacher greatness by human beingness?