Thursday, January 14, 2010

Teaching For Joy and Justice

"Teaching is like life, filled with daily routines—laundry, cooking, cleaning the bathtub—and then moments of brilliance. We get up intending to create the classroom of our imagination and ideals. Sometimes we reach that place, but often we're doing the spade work that makes those brilliant moments possible: mining student lives for stories, building a community where risk-taking can happen, teaching historical background in preparation for insights and connections, or revising drafts—again and again. Those moments of empowerment and illumination are built on the foundation of hard work that often doesn't look either shining or glorious.

Teaching, really teaching, in a classroom with too many students—the engaged and the unengaged—is both difficult and rewarding. Teachers don't make enough money; we're treated as intellectually inferior, in need of external "accountability" programs and "training." We don't have adequate time or authority to plan our curriculum, engage in conversations with our colleagues, go to the bathroom, or digest our lunch. But the joy of watching a student write a brilliant essay that sends chills up and down my spine or a narrative that brings the class to tears or a poem that makes us laugh out loud or the pride as a student teaches a class about the abolition movement at the elementary school across the street—that's the life I choose—again and again.

Teaching for joy and justice. It's what our students need. But it's also what we need."

Excerpt from "Teaching for Joy and Justice" by Linda Christensen