Wednesday, March 13, 2002

Welcome to the Machine

Our school is currently in a flux state of
" TARGET="_blank">self-protectiveness". This is to say that all of our
core teachers, those teachers who have been with our school for ten or more
years, are looking to change their careers with St. Aemilian-Lakeside, Inc.
The interesting and most perturbing issue concerning this change is that
these teachers have metamorphosed into an autonomous stage of education.
This suggests that this model of
is indeed non-linear and is in practicality more web-based.

St. Aemilian-Lakeside, Inc
has as an entity moved into a corner where finger pointing and blame are
the common occurrences. Things do not work well, or as assumed or planned
because of the fault of others. We often have clashes between departments
as to who is responsible or who is in control. It is an ironic state of affairs
since our school is one with the behavior and emotional development of children
in mind. Our collective pedagogy is to establish comforting and rewarding
relationships with our students in an intellectually rich and social environment.
And yet, our school itself is divided by cliques and relationships and
departments all vying for the control of this act or that emphasis. As with
our students who we try to teach to not be manipulative or exploitive we
tend to manipulate and exploit our causes inside our own educational department.
We delve into the teacher-center, or school centric as this case may be,
and focus our attentions on what we as an agent of the school can get out
of the course of the day's work. To cynically paraphrase
John F.
, 'ask now what you can do for your school but ask what your school
can do for you.' This paraphrase is not all that far fetched nor is it "wrong"
when it is applied through the student and their needs as a student, through
the direction that the student's school is going. This then would be a
student-centric school. This type of philosophy breaches when an entity or
autonomous relationships exist.

It is unfortunate for individuals involved when autonomous individuals fall
victim to the self-protective of the whole. Here
Steinbeck is both
correct and wrong in his assumption that
whole is greater than the sum of its individual parts"
. For, what we
see when a "school", as a singular entity - or the "whole", enters into
self-protective then the sum of its parts - those autonomous individuals
became folded, scattered, manipulated and otherwise disillusioned and the
sum of their greatness is lost in the accumulation of the "whole".

For example we have "Jeanie" a core teacher with twelve years accrued at
our school. Jeanie is an art therapist and has maintained her role as a
collaborative teacher. Her influence on the students is one beyond compare
or description. Jeanie has always been enthusiastic about who she is and
what she does. Jeanie is open to learning, open to growth and the opinions
of others no matter how far fetched from her own knowledge as they may be.
Jeanie accepts change, understands the underlying course of change and indeed
has been an agent of change herself. In the last year Jeanie has moved from
a caring autonomous individual to one who is frustrated beyond complaining.
She has "given up" as it were and is seeking other employment, even employment
outside of her teaching career. Her frustration level has brimmed and her
understanding of the "whole" exists in a microcosm of self-protective.

"Steve" has been in a "stable and stagnant" stage for a long time. His ten
plus years at our school has kept him in a "place" of comfort. Steve has
also been in a "conscientious stage" of development. He is unconcerned on
how people view him or his tactics but often is unwarrantedly critical of
his self. Steve allows for perspectives of others to be incorporated into
his teaching and lessons as well as being involved in team and collaborative
environments. However, Steve has not had to deal with change or refused to
budge from his way of thinking. Steve now is in a search for other schools
which he believes will provide him with the ability to be conscientious as
well as autonomous.

"Dan" is stuck within a conformist stage of adult development. Dan seeks
to "fit in" and not make waves, his hopes lie on the belief that if he does
well and is well liked he will be recognized for the wonderful genius that
he is. Unfortunately, since the entity of school is stuck in a self-protective
mode Dan does not get the recognition he seeks. And therefore Dan, after
fifteen years of service to our school is looking for that sense of
accomplishment, the rewards for a good job done elsewhere.

This brings us to "Cindy" a recently hired teacher who brings with her fifteen
years of experience in teaching to our children. Cindy is in a self-protective
mode also, she works well within our school because her goals and sense of
accomplishments are mirrored on the same presence as the entity of our school.
Cindy is also locked into the conformist stage she is eager to be socially
accepted but then grounds her classroom into a set of rules both comforting
and rigid to her sense of justice. She views any acknowledgment towards her
methodology as being "against" her sense of self. With Cindy everything is
either her way or against her way. She reminds me of the
Ken Kesey
statement "you
are either on the bus or you are off the bus."
While this statement can
be incorporated into many different and "positive" accolades with Cindy it
is not. Cindy also seems to be struggling with career frustration. She has
recently been "forced" to go back to school to become certified in an area
she feels that she has expertise in. Cindy tends to complain loudly that
she is under appreciated, she also challenges authority without ever opposing
authority. Cindy falls into that stratosphere of knowing a little about a
lot of things. It is unfortunate that in her state to be accepted or fit
in she often over extends her knowledge or what she wants others to appear
as her knowledge. By overextending her knowledge she appears unknowledgeable
and then becomes the center point of others' discussions which feeds against
her need to fit in. Thus, Cindy focuses on her room, and while trying to
fit in, does not extend that desire outside of her classroom. And when she
does venture out she criticizes others as she feels they are criticizing

This is the general flux from within I our school is working. It is a machine
left to neglect and disrepair. Those individuals mentioned have a large presence
within our school and offer an immense wealth of background knowledge. But
because of the school fluctuating within its self-protective mode these
corresponding parts are withering, drying up, or falling away. Without them
the machine breaks down and becomes another obsolete argument for why our
education system does not work in the first place.