Wednesday, September 07, 2011

A Place Not For Me, But For You

I'm grateful I've not taught in a normal school,
Where children sit and follow my rules,
Or are told what to think, what to know, what to be;
A place not for them, but for me.

I've neither the heart nor the head for ending their play,
For making them cram day after day,
For the gnawing inside that knows all they're missing.
It would build up within me; I'd be the radiator hissing.

I'd get my ass fired while lighting those flames.
I'd finally bust out, "My god, this is lame!
Life is big, varied, exciting, and fun!
It's not just something for when the rote is all done!"

I'm not bearing that message: life is a toil.
That play is dessert kept underneath foil
Until you've been sapped of what you had to give
No, to live is to play, and to play is to live!

I'm sorry I boast, because that's what I do.
Underneath, please believe, I celebrate with you.
Because every parent and teacher knows what is true.
If you've not quit already, you'll get your ass fired too.

And then we will learn, really learn through our day.
Our minds free to pursue what to know, and to say.
It's a place, such a place, so old it is new;
A place not for me, but for you.

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Anonymous said...

Thank-you Teacher Tom. This is EXACTLY what I needed today, as I go into a new job... wondering if I'll make so many waves I'll get fired!

Teacher Janice

SHEAF Dunedin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
homehandymum said...

Love the sentiment, and the lighting the fires, and the busting out and experiencing life. But my inner small self in the back row is putting up its hand and asking - "how about a place for *us*?"

I'm a home educating mum, and it's so darned hard to get that balance right - a place that is for them *and* for me. A family that values all of us and our unique contributions.

In a child-centred workplace, absolutely yes - the adult is there to facilitate the experiences of the children. The adult's needs can be met outside of 'work hours'.

But in a home, a family that sees all of life as a continual flow of work and play and learning, a parent that spends all their energy making the home for 'them' and not for 'me' will end up a hollow shell.

I spend a lot of time flicking between the extremes of 'for them' and 'for me'. It's time for me to think and pray about how to manage 'for us'.

Thanks Teacher Tom - you've sparked something new here.

homehandymum said...

Sorry, "sheaf dunedin" was me - I forgot to check what I was signed into Google as. Sheaf Dunedin is our local home ed support network.

The Knitty Gritty Homestead said...

I feel like a teach for "them"...the ministry of education. I fantasize about reforming the system but it's hard to know where to start...all I can do (right now!) is start in my own classroom...lots of messes, lots of play, lots of child-led learning...thanks for the inspiration, as always.

The Ortega's said...

Always an inspiration, I wish I could find a teacher and a school like yours in my boys have 2 more years (since I'm late starting them) until they have to be "formally" educated and I am already dreading the place for wrote with play as dessert.

Anonymous said...

I got fired from my very first teaching job for refusing to teach first and second graders how to read out of a textbook and refusing to give spelling tests. By the end of the year, my kids scored higher overall in all areas of literacy compared with the other classes, and I never once opened that textbook or gave a spelling test. Still lost my job. Don't regret it one bit.

Aunt Annie said...

Hey, anonymous? I had a room leader 'go through me' this week because I was failing to hover around, oversupervise and constantly invade the children's play. I also dared to sit down (to get on the toddlers' eye level), which was interpreted as laziness.

We play-based teachers are trying to run through some brick walls here. Some days it's only the support of other bloggers that keeps me going. And some of us, yes, will find that we have to move to a more supportive environment; I've done that too.

Good on you for staying strong!

Tammy said...

I love this. I work for Head Start and have for 25 years. In those years I have watched the impact of the program change from a social gathering place, to a mass produced cut out child who is full of the stuff the government dictates that I need to stuff in there.
We are "outcome" based, now, not child based. That is so sad to me. I realized that my role has changed and I no longer really desire to be the stuffer of knowledge. I want to go back to that place of giggles and laughter.
Thanks for this Teacher Tom. I plan on printing it out and hanging it by my desk. This year I may be the rebel who laughs instead of crams. Who's outcomes is giggles instead of numbers.