8/4/11

Transmission- teacher/child connections that inspire


Transmission - Transmission refers to authentic passing of a certain teaching from master to student or from master to master

In Buddhism, there is a name for the awakening of knowledge from teacher to student and it's called 'transmission'. This knowledge cannot come from a book or from non-living entities, it can only come from another human being, more enlightened than yourself.

In trying to explain to other parents and younger teachers how connecting teacher pay to standardized testing scores deeply, I repeat, DEEPLY undermines the quality of their child's education, I keep coming back to this idea of transmission in Buddhism as a metaphor to better explain what is being lost. Teachers know about transmission too. Being natural self-reflective beings, we find the rewards of our craft in seeing the light go on in a child's eyes, in knowing we made a difference in a child's life. And I am not talking academic here. I am talking about life-changing. Simply making a child college ready is not enough. What use is a diploma if the child feels he's not smart? what good is a diploma if the child has no sense of purpose and self? Teachers teach the whole child, yet, tests ask teachers to abandon this comprehensive approach for a more focused one, 'college ready'.

I can say for sure, that in my 14 years as an elementary school teacher, I have worked tirelessly to not only impart knowledge to my children, but that goal has only been secondary to inspiration. To deeply inspire and empower their very souls, their imaginations, and their sense of selves to become the people the universe intended them to become is every career teacher's main goal. In making the mere passing of these invalid and highly non-reliable high-stakes tests the absolute main objective of our children's education, utterly destroys the genuine possibilities of true inspiration to occur. In making passing a bubble test THE purpose of our scholarly journeys, we render useless the awesome power of imagination. We stomp the possibility of life-changing connections to occur between teachers and students when we ask how smart are you, rather than what are you smart AT? (Ken Robinson taught me that). With what we are doing to our kids today, with this ridiculous testing craze, we are ensuring that this generation of children are getting a much less effective education overall, than their parents enjoyed.

Unfortunately today, in this deliberate assault on teachers and on public schools by the corporate 'DE formers', what replaces these 'golden nuggets' of learning are finite, pre-set structures aimed entirely at simplifying the comprehensive oversight of teachers. These cut-throat methods, surely borrowed from a corporate model, cut at the fragile, yet meaningful continuity and buildup of understanding that would have been in place have the teacher been allowed to follow more organic rhythms of learning. Another negative side affect I find most disturbing, is how our children exist daily within these lesser virtues and absorb these plastic ideals of self-preservation and competition, rather than fostering classroom environments infused with collective problem solving and life-changing inspiration that will be enormously more useful to our future leaders, than any bubble test can ever provide.

The abuses we continuously dispense upon our teachers in America effect all our children in very negative ways. Teachers have become dispossessed of the organic nature of their craft,their self-trust, their self-worth, and dignities. It should come to no surprise then that OUR children too, by their connections to these teachers, have been systematically and ruthlessly robbed of the genuine whole-child, wholesome, and holistic learning experiences these settings should be providing.

In empowering the teachers in this country, we directly empower all the children they work with. Inspiration can change a life, can shape a future, can help one supersede all obstacles and can transform our children into triumphant, whole, emotionally balanced men and women. Yet, if teachers feel demoralized and perform year after year in mere self-preservation mode, they cannot possibly be able to inspire our youth to become the shakers and makers of tomorrow. We should stop spending millions upon millions fine tuning teacher evaluation systems that will ultimately enable us to wrongly overidentify those 'bad, BAD teachers'. Instead, we should begin to value the limitless potential of all human beings when given freedom, trust and respect. People have come to America for centuries because of its endless opportunities. In America, if you can dream it and you work hard, it can happen. Our imagination and innovation are inextricably tied to what America is all about. Let's restore creativity, inspiration, and innovation in schools by allowing career teachers to do what they know how to do best....teach.


1 comment:

  1. Thank you for such a beautiful post. It gives me hope that there is another teacher out there who views our craft as something that is spiritual, imaginative, and compassionate. I feel that many teachers have become imprisoned in the testing-craze and have had their talents robbed from them by the corporatists, they have become fearful, numb, they second-guess and doubt themselves when they veer away from what we are being forced to do, even though instinctually they know teaching the whole child is the most beneficial. I have felt that myself, but have been able to pull myself out of it and balance the "real teaching" with what I am being blackmailed into doing. Unfortunately, I feel this dehumanization of education is no accident. Deformers do not want inspired, creative thinking adults to come out of the lower and middle classes. Innovation and independent thought is only reserved for the very wealthy.

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