“No one need invite us to reason, compare, imagine; the mind, like the body, digests its proper food, and it must have the labour of digestion or it ceases to function.”Toward a Philosophy of Education – Charlotte Mason
Last year, a friend said I was showing signs of teacher burnout – something she said didn’t usually happen until 10 years in. Last year being only my 3rd year teaching, the implication was. and still is, that I am overworking myself. Daily, I show up in my classroom ready to teach, and daily, I walk out of my classroom feeling like I care so much more about the education of my students than they themselves do. It is so absolutely discouraging.
I love learning. I love reading words on a page and interpreting them in my mind. I love the thoughts and emotions words can inspire. I love reading a beautifully crafted phrase and then stopping to read it again – to let the words play in my mind and on my tongue. I love that I can travel miles into the past and across the present, that I can envision how someone else imagines the future; that worlds can be created and broken down and created again – all on a page. I love the ongoing discussions that began hundreds of years ago and continue through the writing of my contemporaries. I love that sometimes I get to eves drop on long written conversations, and sometimes I get to write into them.
I thought that as a teacher I would be able to communicate this love – to inspire students to love language and communication – to read and write and live into the beautiful and the broken – to be more themselves and to allow them to practice who they want to become.
I did not think I would feel like I was parenting 90 children who despise me because of what I love or because of the system I am a part of – because they despise every part of it’s functioning; that many of them would view their school day as a type of imprisonment. I didn’t know that they wouldn’t love words – that they would hate every letter – that their discontent would be contagious: A mob mentality that glorifies all things instant and simple. Their apathy toward their own education – the atrophy of their minds – does not bother them in the least. It seems that they’d rather slide off the cliff because it requires nothing, than climb the mountain that requires strength and a willingness to exert effort in order to reach a goal that might not be fully defined.
I don’t have a way to fix what I see. I don’t pretend that I do. However, I want to try. I want to share and inspire and be inspired. I want to learn how to host education in a way that both teachers and students can thrive. Where all want to practice that “labour” of digesting, creating,reasoning, and imagining. These things should need to be forced – they are part of our very human nature! I want to host a space where thoughts become words which can be read and spoken – where those thoughts and words challenge beautiful growth and breakdown brokenness. I will not give up.