Saturday, October 16, 2010

sense of relief

Nice to have a change... for five years (2005-2010), besides teaching I've had the small extra job of P.O.S.R. at D.P. Todd (sounds awful, I know, but it stands for Position of Special Responsibility). This involved Technology planning and assistance, Advocacy at school and in the district on educational issues, attending lots of meetings, supporting teaching & learning projects, and writing the annual "School Plan for Student Success." I learned a great deal from this role, not all positive, but it has certainly reinforced the need for me to pursue and model rigorous inquiry and self-governance. Our school system tries to accomplish too many things* (see below) to be great at any one of them, so it comes down to individuals and groups working together in free association for mutual benefit to achieve some of these things in context. To be succinct, I haven't got a lot of faith in groupthink, and I think this impacted the kind of job I was able to do as P.O.S.R. I think vision has a strong role to play in education, I just don't believe it comes from the places we normally look to find it. And I'm glad to take a break from it... I had unrealistic expectations of the system I worked in and found I had to keep setting the bar lower when trying to get issues taken seriously. This is not a criticism of my employer, but rather an admission that I was probably focused on criteria that was not shared by my superiors... my bad, so to speak.

*What does our system try to do?...
providing a general liberal arts education vs vocational training, addressing specific student needs while managing large groups of students, preparing citizens vs preparing consumers, sheltering/nurturing/warehousing young people during working hours, in-school attention vs distance learning, fostering inquiry vs coercing a focus on set outcomes, teaching responsibility vs vicarious parenting, socialization vs assessment of academic progress, class vs school vs distirct vs provincial-based goals and decisions. These and more each have their champions, their trends and philosophic underpinnings, and their political tendencies, and are at times incongruous, especially at the larger levels but even within a single classroom at times.