The voice in my head has been tormenting me with these words for the past week. Yet every time I bring my fingers to the keyboard, poised to begin typing, I am paralyzed. Suddenly I remember that I haven’t checked my facebook page in the last 20 minutes. Better do that. And while I’m there I might as well see if there is anything on twitter, and the news, and is that my stomach growling? I should probably eat. There are dirty dishes in the sink so I might as well clean up too…and so on and so forth. A million excuses charge into my mind as to why I simply cannot start this blog. Nope, not today. Sometimes I think it’s my self-diagnosed ADD that’s causing the problem. If I could just sit down for an hour without getting distracted, I could get this done! But really I am just kidding myself. I know exactly why I freeze up. It’s fear. I’m not scared of “blogging” per se – that’s stupid. What I’m scared of are the reasons behind why I started this blog. And in order for anyone who might be reading this to understand that, you’ll need a bit of background information.
I always knew I wanted to be a teacher. Cliche? Maybe – but true. While other kids were out enjoying their summer vacation, I was forcing my poor brother and sister to play school with me. I think I also made them play church (but that’s a story for another day). I used to start little clubs with them like “Green Club” where they could earn badges for being environmentally friendly. I had a subscription to Greenpeace magazine, Pollution Probe newsletter and Ranger Rick (oh memories of being a child in Canada!). I used to do my own research projects too. My favourite animals were elephants and I remember being devastated by a book I read outlining how they would be extinct in a decade. At this point (if you are still reading) you’re either thinking I was a precocious yet endearing young thing or a SUPER HUGE NERD CHILD! I mean, who makes their own litmus paper to test soil pH at age 10? Anyways, my point is that I always loved learning and I was very independent about it. I think that has a lot to do with the fact that my parents put me in Montessori school where you have to be self disciplined and self motivated in order for it to really work for you. After nine years of self directed learning, however, I began to crave the structure of the schools I saw on TV. I wanted homework, assignments, desks! (See above – “huge nerd child”). And that is exactly what I got.
Oh the disappointment.
To be fair, I went to a great school where the teachers really cared about us and knew us each individually. It was very small and it felt more like a family than just an educational institution. I learned a great deal – not just content, but skills that carried me through university. I remember going to Queen’s and feeling like I was surrounded my morons. People were flunking all around me because they couldn’t write an essay or lab report or make a study plan. Without my high school experience, I never would have been successful post secondary. But what I realized later on is that those skills that I had transferred from high school to university were ones I had learned on my own. For example, I remember my English teacher checking over my notebook for an essay I had written on the link between science and the novel Frankenstein. She noticed the way I had organized my research was unique and asked me where I had learned to do it. “I just made it” up was my reply. And I still use it today.
Where am I going with this? My point is that I remember NOTHING from high school or university except for the things I taught myself with my teacher’s guidance. I can’t recall a single test question, but I can remember that essay I wrote (not to mention that exquisite epistolary novel I penned “Love, Lies and Lechery”). I can’t picture one biology worksheet, but I remember that science fair project I did on calorimetry (my partner’s name on the other hand….eeeesh…no clue). So I had an epiphany while completing an exercise in self-reflection during my degree in education. When teachers gave me the opportunity to explore and understand on my own terms, that’s when true, authentic, long lasting learning happened. And that’s what I wanted for my future students. I wanted them to have those meaningful learning experiences I did. No lectures. No fill-in-the-blank worksheets on the overhead projector for an hour. No copying off the board. No boring the hell out of them.
So where did it all go wrong?
Next blog post…the downward spiral of shame.