Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The End of the Summer Institute

Robert Frost, Poet

We've come to the end of the Plymouth Writing Project Five-Week Summer Institute.  It was a brilliant experience.  We arrive as individual teachers and leave as a collaborative force.  We've laughed and cried, listened hard and worked even harder.  We have written thousands of words, hundreds of stories.

We've shared our teaching, our research, our thoughts and our teacher hearts.  I wrote: 

 There is a myth of the isolated writer, locked into himself/herself, door closed where he/she fights dragons and demons, alone.

But the experiences I am having in the writing project have exploded the myth -- blown a hole smack through the wall that separates writer from writer, artists from artists, the writer-me from myself.

The Writing Marathon at Dartmouth College was so much fun and so deep and so, so collaborative.   I loved the writing task:  Find a sculpture.  Observe closely.  Ask yourself questions.  Write and share.  I love the rituals.  Introduce yourself and say, "I am a writer."

At the end of the reading, your companions say, "Thank you."  No comments.  No critique.  Just simple gratitude:  "Thank you for sharing your world with us".

Outside the Rounds Building where our classes are held, there is a bronze sculpture of the poet Robert Frost to honor his teaching time at Plymouth State University and his legacy of words, images and New England thinking.  I remember watching him read his poem for John F. Kennedy's Inauguration as President of the United States, January 1961.

It was very cold that day.  The sun was so bright, Frost found it hard to read from his paper.  I was fourteen years old, witnessing the giants of history on a black and white television screen. 

I remind Frost of this whenever I pass him at his bench.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Obama's High-Stakes Teacher Bashing - COLORLINES

Read the full article on:

Never, never did I expect to be facing this kind of attack on teachers from this President.  I do not support Race to the Top.  My lifework has been as a testing specialist, mainly with special needs students.  I started in 1975, so I feel I am a "credible witness" to the damage inherent in "standardized" testing.

There is a place for reflection, assessment, and evaluation, but it's not this punitive, controlled and utterly political agenda that started with No Child Left Behind.  I can tell you we are leaving a generation of children behind.  No question.

We need to humanize our schools, not turn them into narrow-minded and competitive entities. Our children's learning depends on all society.  Support your teachers, especially the good ones.  Keep the special programs -- art, music, sports, drama -- especially in public schools!  Those people who put their children into private schools will have all those opportunities -- increasing the gap between the rich and the poor and the rest of us in the middle.

Good teaching, good parenting, good governing depends on collaboration.  We need to share good ideas and practices, not hold back and compete against other schools, other colleagues.

The corporate world does not create good teachers or good education.  Their goals are not "for the good of the public".

Bottom line:  Who controls education, controls the culture.  Ever wonder how much money these corporate testing companies make?   A lot.