Saturday, July 18, 2009


I've decided that I want to be as resilient as wild chicory. Every spring I watch those beautiful pale blue flowers bloom along the roadsides and wild places. Inevitably as they reach their peak, road crews come along with their monstrous mowers and strip them away. It always makes my heart ache a little to see them disappear. But I only have to be patient and give them a few weeks to regroup, and then there they are again, their periwinkle faces bobbing on their spindly stems.

I feel as though I have been run over by a mower or two during the last couple of weeks. A conference, a workshop, hours and hours at my desk scrambling to get ready for a new school year and a plethora of changes. I love teaching, but life as a high school teacher seems to become more difficult with each passing year. I can deal with the changing nature of the young people I teach--life changes and so do the creatures that inhabit it! It is often a challenge to translate the current adolescent mind and its accompanying angst, but that keeps the job interesting! What I have more difficulty with is the apparent illogic and ineptness of the policy makers in the field of education.

There is such a focus on student performance on high stakes testing that true learning often gets lost in the shuffle. These two things are not mutually exclusive, but I can't understand why it's not obvious to everyone that the focus has to first be on learning--then the testing takes care of itself. Many of the policy dictates that educators are dealing with right now have a tendency to be counterintuitive. We are often asked to use convoluted methods to tackle problems that would be better confronted head on. It can all be exhausting and potentially demoralizing.

So I think about chicory. It is so beautiful and seemingly fragile, but it doesn't give up. Maybe I should plant a twig or two on my desk as a reminder.


Joy said...

I like the analogy,and you know I agree with you about testing and not teaching students to think critically and really learn.

Wonder Man said...

i like it too

frogponder said...

One of the Lost Boys I taught had been moved from one state to our state and plopped into his new school the very day we started two weeks of high stakes testing. Poor kid spun off and it took a year and a half to get him down to earth.
We do real damage to some kids with this stuff.

Howard said...

Beautifully played analogy. Teaching is an amazing thing, but have never understood why it is judged on the success of test scores, not the success of the students.

Berry Blog said...

Bitter bitter chicory. I never saw the flower or the plant until your picture- thanks.I recall when my folks, "wicked po", got chicory and made coffee by boiling it in water, no percolater and we strained the bitter liquid through our teeth.
I like the analogy. I firmly believe in my heart that there are enough teachers out there with the conviction to grasp those teachable moments in spite of the system's persistent anti intuitive approach. I know Joy was one of those, am convinced that FP is one, and from Joy's sharing about you, know you are too.
I would love a romance novel course from you.You are wicked sensitive and insightful.

Jacqueline said...

I like this analogy, too. I almost hate to post and supersede your beautiful writing. Keep talking to us.

Tina said...

Just wanted to say thanks for the support! Joy, I might actually survive this after all.