What’s up with teaching

There is something amazing about that first sip of coffee on an almost cold enough to snow Sunday morning. Even at pretend 4:30AM (because it’s 5:30 real AMs), and at sixty-three real degrees in my living room, even though I have the thermostat set for what I now know is pretend 70.

Seems the furnace got added to the list of things needing fixin’ on this week’s agenda. It’s not a long list but there’s now more than one thing on it.

I look at the sunny side, though. I still have heat, and I have a home to heat to begin with. I’ll pay a little to maintain a good vehicle that no longer costs me a lot.

Like how health care could but probably never will be.

See, I’m not just a glass is half-full type; my glass is full. I’m just a little clumsy so a drop spills here and there. “Still full!” I say, because I don’t allow the lost drops to diminish the glass.

A glance at the clock, and I gauge my inner-being to see if he’s prepared to get the dog out of her crate earlier than usual.

If I go down to the furnace to open the first-floor zone, the dog will see me and think it’s time to get up and…

My inner-being tells me I really have no choice and should prepare to get the dog out. That means start the coffee, bundle up, put shoes on, grab a few treats, do the furnace, get the dog, take her outside and have coffee waiting when I come back inside.

I’m generally not this methodical, but when confronted with a set of challenges there is something about the teacher-brain (part of inner-being) that kicks into gear and lays out a plan lickety-split. It’s a skill that gets honed in the classroom because the pretend routine establishes a tendency towards procedure, while the reality of persistent confounding variables enhances a knack for problem solving.

But I need to get back to that coffee. Remember the coffee? This is a story about coffee.

Apologies to Arlo Guthrie, and if you don’t know that name just apologize to the person closest to you. I got distracted by the teacher stuff for a moment, and I know it seemed like forever, but consider this:

In the time of that ramble off-course with real me, pretend me got bundled up a little, went to the basement and got heat to the first floor, got the dog out the basement door (remembering to put on the don’t run off red collar), let the dog do her business after showing her how, came back in the side door, and poured a cup of coffee.

The coffee though, for whatever reason, was incredible. I don’t know if it was that I put in just the right amount of coffee grounds (I never measure, I dump-and-eyeball it). I don’t know if it was the combination of a slightly chilled face, a well-behaved (*cough*) dog that pretty much comes along when I call, and a favorite cup next to a fresh pot waiting for me.

Who knows what it was, but the first sip was heaven. Real me and inner being were one-hundred percent together at that moment, and the realization of the entire situation made me think:

What’s up with teaching?

There is additional heaviness that has come to the endeavor to educate.

So, I bring it around to the title. Here’s what’s up with teaching:

The combination of a Trump presidency and a pandemic has made teaching feel heavy. Heavy as in a weightiness to what it does, could, and should mean to educate. We are at a crucial moment and for those who survive the rising waters on higher ground or grow gills, and somehow end up reading this:

Teaching should not continue to mean ticking off boxes and analyzing progress towards serving an unacceptable status quo, because that status quo is why our struggles increase while being ordered to throw ourselves into the most of it by those who struggle least.

In service to “the economy” instead of mankind and creation, it seems.

Education should be preparation to combat that reality, not surrender to it or an illusion of “liberty and justice for all” that uses patriotism and religion as sword and shield slice up and beat down truth.

And yet here we are.

Around the nation COVID is coming back, closing schools, sending college kids home and threatening to overwhelm hospitals and medical services. This is not the way it should feel, but if it feels this way to a teacher, how does it feel for students?

That’s why I try to go at it hoping for the best. Remote teaching and remote learning is not the way this stuff should happen. In school, students shouldn’t be masked and distanced, but we have to be. This is what’s up with teaching, and I’m getting another cup of coffee.