Saturday, May 18, 2013

Once Upon a Time--A Fable (I have hope that a 'magical day indeed' will occur.)

Once upon a time there was a huge ship-sized vessel where the education of this mythological town occurred. The townspeople came to the dock with their children and entrusted the teachers, the therapists, the nurses, the aides, the principals, the custodians, and the lunch ladies to care and further educate their young, while they, the townspeople, went back to the land and did their responsibilities for the town like taking care of the land, crops, animals and making the clothing. The land lubbers also created and maintained the vehicles and cared for the town’s elderly. Everyone was happy with their self-chosen positions and places, and felt it was an even exchange. The land lubbers said, “We could never do your job, teachers! Out at sea with the young minds living amongst the sights, sounds and smells of creative exploration of learning with zest, grit, curiosity, teaching social interactions, further curiosity and compassion. Thank you for taking our children and helping them to find their path so we have a next generation of people to care for our place, our town, our community.”

The teachers said, “You’re welcome. We love what we do. We work so hard in the blazing glare of the sun and through the dark storms of unrest because we know every child needs time to think and learn at their own pace and this ship allows us to focus on them, one and all, at the rate of each one’s learning. Thank you also for doing what you land lubbers do, so we can concentrate on the children. It’s an all-win situation for the entire community.”

For many years this format was unchanged. The educators took the children out to sea and taught them, as only those who understand brain research and development can do effectively. The educators worked through a variety of Nor’easters and hurricane storms along with various trials and tribulation, but always kept the children safe and thinking. 

Until one day, when a few evil jealous business land lubbers grew powerful and while watching the teachers from shore (with binoculars) thought that what the teachers did wasn’t so hard. “Look at the smiles, the joy, the laughter on the people who were aboard the education ship! How hard could that ‘work’ be??” they exclaimed until people listened. And so, the land lubbers decided that what THEY did was so very difficult and trying, after all they didn’t seem to have ‘fun’ in their jobs.  “Why should teachers who get to put sunblock on and play in the sun need rest? Need even time to eat? They should be happy to just BE on the boat…why should teachers even get paid when it was the land lubbers, so obviously, who really did the real work of the town!” The educators did not know of the unrest at first. They were not privy to these conversations because the teachers were so busy on the ship attending to their children and doing their calling, attending to their parts of the time honored contract.  

However, as money became tighter on land, less and less was contributed to the ship of children. More money was needed for war and silly businesses. Money, which was meant for the children, didn’t even actually make it to the education ship’s budget account. Teachers were even blamed for costing too much, when in reality less and less money was put into the ship’s coffers. Over time the sails began to rip, causing major issues while at sea. Teachers and supports were taken off the ship, they were told they were not needed. Some teachers refused to leave the children who needed them, but were tossed over the side, as if they didn’t even matter.  Less adults meant more kids for each adult still on the ship to keep watch over , so students began to fall overboard because there were less teachers to catch them before they slipped. Teachers were blamed again for incompetence. More issues between the equipment began to drain resources, like the engine break downs and faulty equipment as the ‘lowest bidder’ contracts fell apart as quickly as their promises and their work. All of this made an environment where the educators not only had to teach all subjects, as the teachers of the arts were also thrown overboard, but teachers also had to: heat and cool as well as clean their own rooms; fix their own sails; and buy food and supplies for the students themselves. Many of these things they did because teachers didn’t want the children to know what was going and be pained by what the adults were doing to the ship and its people. They still did not understand the extent of the anti-education revolt.

The land lubbers declared no additional money would be sent to the ship until teachers could show and promise that children would indeed be able to take care of the old people, the crops, and the land. Tests were rolled out. If the students did well on these tests, that would show the teachers were worthy. But what the evil jealous land lubbers did was make sure there was no way the children could score well on the exams. The tests were on subjects that were years above each child, then the teachers looked faulty. Again. The horrible teachers. Teachers said they were doing their best but that the parents too must help by making sure that parents and community were respectful and honorable in their actions and their teachings, as well. Rocks were flung at the teachers as they went home each night. The teachers now knew the extent of the chaos.

“That is not OUR job, that’s YOURS! What do we pay you for?” the land lubbers yelled as each stone was thrown.

Teachers tried to explain…"You made choices, land lubbers. You gave less to the education ship. The sails need care and replacement and caretakers. We are taking on water, we are going to sink! We must always be prepared for storms yet you saw a sunny week-long forecast and spent the money meant for the raingear on wars and silly business issues, assuming you’d replace the money before it rained. Then you blamed us for the rain.

You took teachers off the ship. You took aides, nurses, therapists, principals and custodians.  You continued to bring your children but before you dropped them off you told them how foolish and selfish educators and education was; your kids didn’t respect us any more than they respected you at this point. Then you expected them to want to take care of one another…when you so carefully showed them how to disregard others."

The people scoffed and said, “We could do your job.” They seemed to completely forget that when school vacations came, many land lubbers were finding ‘enrichment’ programs and anxiously counting down days to bringing the kids to the docks.

But then when all seemed almost completely lost, a day of magic came and the land lubbers realized that teachers were doing what was best... before they messed it up. Teachers knew the kids.  Teachers knew their kids as well as research and they knew how to reach each child. The community began to break out of the spell they had fallen under and they realized that the educators really did know what they were doing. Teachers really did know how to teach and make a better world, especially when given the respect and honor due them.

The day of magic came when the community came to the worn down, rock-pocked ship. They really saw, now that the spell was indeed broken, how tired and worn the vessel and the educators were and they were ashamed. The community couldn’t thank the educators enough for staying and fighting for their children, for standing up and doing what was right despite their anger, their ridicule, their thrown stones. They even rehired the teachers they had thrown overboard and fired, and they helped the teachers, the therapists, the nurses, the aides, the principals, the custodians, and the lunch ladies rebuild the community so that each individual person remained a human respected and honored for ever after.

It was a very magical day indeed.

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