Saturday, June 19, 2010

A correlation between teaching buffalos and teenagers....

    I am currently furthering my edjumacation in...well, edjumacation...I have been teaching for 15 years now, high school science. I am currently working on my Specialist degree. I have my BS (bullshit), MS (more shit), now I'm getting my EdS (even deeper shit). After July 19th, I will Specialize in Shit.
But the mind wanders away from my point. Which is....lemmee think...
Yes. I am writing a paper on John Dewey. I am forever spelling his name Dewy. Like he's wet or something... If you are really, really,really, bored go see just how much that man has written. Luckily, we do not have to write  "The Life and Times of John Dewey" which I think would bore to death even his biggest fan. And I think my professor creams his pants just a little every time he says "John Dewey".
     The theme of my paper is an ongoing argument I have been having with some of my colleagues. They say we should not hold them responsible for their work ethics, I say we should. They say that we should only grade on how well they know the material. I say try being smart and lazy in the work place. It gets you nowhere good, mayhaps unemployed. Okay, I know, it seems that the underachiever is given kudos these days, and patted on the back, given a "there, there, it will be okay. Here's some money", but in my head, where the people of substance and integrity live, the reward for a job well done is more work. And a better paycheck.
    So I am writing this paper, and I am reminded of a story I heard in Bandera, Texas last summer.
Our host, Carl (or is it Karl), was entertaining us beside the pool. It was late evening, maybe very early morning, my memory is fuzzy on that point. The fuzziness might have has something to do with the bloody Mary's I had consumed.  Carl/Karl, a man with a winning Texas accent, silver hair, silver tongue, and the kind of worn skin that only comes from a long history of a love affair with the sun and the land, was telling us of a conversation with a friend of his. Both he and his friend raise, among other things, buffalo. Carl/Karl's friend was lamenting the fact that his buffalo kept breaking down fences. C/Karl's friend asked C/Karl what he did to keep his buffalo from breaking down fences. C/Karl replied that he did not have that problem. His friend was astounded! What secret trick, what magic, did C/Karl know to keep the buffalo in?
Simple, said C/Karl. He shot the first buffalo in  the head that tried to break down the fence. Word got around, he said, to the other buffalo. And the buffalo learned to leave the fence alone.

Word got around!!!

And that got me thinking about my experience as a teacher. No, I'm not saying shoot one in the head! Although, whenever I see a cool action sequence where the good guy has a BFG or cool whip, or some other weapon of destruction I think, "I would just need to use that once! Then I would never have another problem in my classroom!" But that's just me dreaming...

But, I don't have too many problems in my classroom. Because my philosophy is simple:

Begin the way you intend to continue
Simple, huh? I start with high expectations, and then I keep them. I don't put up with any crap, but I don't need a principal to handle anything. The best offense is a good tackle, or something like that. But as long as you let the student know the boundaries, then life is good.

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