Ticklish Ears

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Love and Passion in the Classroom

No, not that kind. Bear with me.

The Carnival of Education is up over at The Education Wonks. EdWonk does his usual superb job. I’ve visited a number of the entries mentioned in this week’s carnival, including MathAndText’s description of a humorous exchange concerning the spelling of checkup.

My title above refers to an entry by ThinkLab that in turn links to a discussion over at Palimpsest redux. The theme begins with teacher burnout in the early years but quickly transforms into the balance between loving your students and teaching them the basics. Here’s a snippet:

Sometimes we get so caught up in the curriculum or in trying to meet those demands that we forget real teaching is just loving kids and modeling passion; that instinctual drive to “do what was right first and figure out the curriculum second.

This sort of talk went a little too far for one parent, Steve, who left a comment:

… do me a favor and teach my kids grammar and leave the caring and communicating and impact to me. There’s burnout in every career, and you must do what it takes to get through the toughest days, but if all you’re bringing to my child’s classroom is passion and concern, then you’ve failed them in the long run.

Most of the comments that follow respond directly or indirectly to Steve. While there is a nod in the direction of curriculum, there’s a bit too much love and passion for my tastes. They don’t seem to realize that their comments only reinforce Steve’s concerns.

And mine. Need a reason to homeschool? Consider this comment:

No one is throwing out curriculum. It does need to be tempered with passion, creativity and enthusiasm. Until you’ve dealth [sic] with a room of 29 hormone riddled, insecure adolescents who don’t want to be there in the first place and your job is to teach them grammar, penmanship and reading comprehension, you won’t get it.

I don’t disagree with this commenter in the least. I am sure those conditions are very difficult to deal with, and that teaching the basics is hard in a situation like this. Still, nobody can claim this is an ideal situation.

Back to the point: love, passion, content, creativity - all important. But when the content gets lost in the noise, it can’t be good.

2 Responses to “Love and Passion in the Classroom”

  1. Christian Says:

    Love that the dialogue continues after a simple post done months and months ago at “think:lab”.

    Just for the sake of context, the original post was offered to simply one teacher. Just to one single teacher based out of a previous conversation at a time when they were wrestling with the ‘is this the right career’ question. It was a reminder to not over-analyze the ‘content’ in the first year of teaching. The goal in that first year is to remain healthy and ‘able’ so that you can be there for the long-haul for all kids, to serve the curriculum over many years.

    So, to that one teacher based in a single conversation, the advice was to remember that surviving that first year often requires connecting with something far more profound than ‘curriculum’ alone.

    Each thread of this conversation that tries to pick one side or the other — no matter how well written — misses the context of that original question. It also misses the larger context of teaching, period.

    Simply put, it ain’t about love vs. curriculum. It’s about something that intersects and brings together the two. Period.

    But I do enjoy the ricochet of the conversation. Just hope that the end goal won’t be to simply line up behind one side of the coin vs. the other.

    The kids — homeschooled or traditional schooled — deserve better in the end.

  2. David Says:

    Thanks for your comments, Christian, and thanks for stopping by. You’re always welcome over here.

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