When I was a young girl, I really struggled with any sort of injustice. Injustice really hurt my heart. I would cry, I would write emotional poetry, I would hurt for days. And, I would wax lyrical about how I was going to change the world.
When the nuns were found, murdered, in an African country in the eighties, I was going to become a non-Catholic missionary and go out to save the people. Yes, I now know what a missionary is in its fullest extent – romantic idealism does not take into account limitations. And, when I saw a documentary about sows chained in little pens, I cried and cried and wrote one of my favourite poems, and cried some more until I became vegetarian. Now, my soul cries for all animals.
I had a dream when I was very young, between 9 and 12 years old, where armies were converging upon one another on a dark night and I stood up between them, hands outstretched, dressed in white, instructing and inspiring them to stop, in a speech that Martin Luther King Jr and Barack Obama would have been proud of.
The systems were wrong, even then. There is something wrong with humans and the way we have organised our society.
When I first started teaching in the early nineties, I was interviewed by a local newspaper. They asked why I wanted to become a teacher. My answer, predictably, I want to change the world.
Over time, with maturity, or was it growing cynicism, I realised I could change the world only by changing the lives of individuals. They would then do their part, and in time, our world would become a better place. Instead of me being the saviour, I accepted that I was a part of a bigger process.
At 46, almost 47, I don’t know where I sit with all of this. The changes in education, the changes in the way people lead, the lack of change that is needed yet not delivered, bamboozles me.
Education has become so right wing, so totalitarian, that I just don’t get it. Everyone needs to do things the same way, everyone is a cog and no longer a human being, and playing the game gets you ahead. Being true, being authentic, being real, does not. The systems no longer fit the individual, if they ever did.
I don’t like it. But, I don’t care to fight it either. Well, not as a part of it.
Something fundamentally necessary has disappeared from education in NSW, probably worldwide, except Finland, and that is the passion of its educators and legislators for the welfare of children. It’s become so day to day that we have forgotten the why. We no longer strive to be better, even though we pretend we are with continual changes in syllabi that do nothing except alienate the underclass further. Changes that don’t further education or our kids or our world.
The system sucks. It’s broken.
So, how am I settling back into the machine after a year out of it?
Five days a fortnight is working for me. As a classroom teacher with no leadership stresses, my love for my classroom practice is thriving. I love my students. I manipulate what I want to teach to fit what I have to teach. I refuse to become entrenched by the education machine. And, I know my time is limited.
I love my kids. I love watching them navigate their own learning. It’s such a gift. I love playing with them in our classroom. I love seeing their smiles and I love seeing them engaged. I love the relationships that build and I love loving my kids.
On Tuesday, another teacher gave me some feedback from one of my new students. She said that the student had said I was inspiring. Beautiful. If I can help that child know their value and enjoy their learning, I’ve achieved what I set out to achieve.
I’ve changed the world.