As a child, education felt like a “lather, rinse, repeat” experience. I sat in a chair listening to the day’s lecture, had a minimal amount of interaction with my peers and instructor, and then I went home. I finished my homework like a ‘good’ pupil. Not to learn, of course, but in order to keep my respectable reputation with my teachers. I did defy my parents on my prescribed bed time in order to watch, “The Mask of Zorro,” but alas, I would eventually fall asleep, just to return to school the next day; to the daily grind of being a prepubescent zombie.
Field trips and learning fractions, with a little help from a bag full of Skittles, were the school days I looked forward to the most because it was a new source of stimuli. The moments I was encouraged to engage all of my senses, I learned the most. I listened (auditory), I saw (visual), and I experienced (kinesthetic).
I realize not every subject has the ability to douse its course curriculum in hands-on activities or that it should be the only way to learn but time after time, even in higher education, I have seen solitary projection screens and teachers reading directly from the book. And people are audacious enough to call this singular practice teaching. But, this isn’t teaching. It is speaking empty words accompanied by apathy and it is a detrimental temptation to succumb to.
The best educators I have had were innovative and were able to mix and mold their topic until it looked like magic. Until it made your eyes glimmer with wonder and made you more curious about the world, instead of afraid or indifferent. They made a difference in my life because they made me think for myself.
I am not a teacher and I will not pretend to know the struggles our educators face due to budget cuts, criminally low salaries, and the daily management of classroom chaos but I have heard their stories. Some that have left my heart all the warmer and others, that ignited a righteous rage within me, making me wish the world was better. Sometimes, perfect.
Because, in a perfect world, there would be enough. Enough money for education, for creativity, and for every dream or goal we wished to accomplish. But we do not live in a perfect world nor do we need to for it to be a good world.
The reality of our situation is this: we must continue to do the best we can with what little we have and if we have anything to give, we must give our all.
Let us create magic where there is none; for ourselves and for the generations to come.