It must be fall. The weather has turned and I had a desire to bake some apple bread. My grandma’s apple bread, mind you! It is amazing. I find a wonderful sense of connection whenever I make it, as if I am there with Grandma in her kitchen baking it. Grandma was a great baker (lousy cook, but amazing baker) and I have many fond memories of her making us boys cookies and cakes and pies over the years. The smell of the cinnamon from the apple bread brings it all back. I also know it much be fall because I am finding myself being reflective. Some do it at New Years, I do it in the fall. Maybe it is because I am a teacher, the whole “new school year” thing, I don’t really know. But still. . .
My friend Mike posted on Facebook that he found the patent his Great Grandfather obtained online and that he has a table in his house made using that idea. What a wonderful connection. What a treat to have that link to a bygone era. My home is filled with antiques as well and looking at them, and at the drawing Mike posted, really got me thinking about what will my children remember when they are as old as me. Will it be trips we have taken? Games we played? I know what I hope it is, but still one can never tell, can they?
This year marks my 22nd year of teaching. For ½ of life, I have been working in classrooms with classes of my own. What will they remember from their time with me? Will they remember the lessons I taught? I hope so. Will they remember the projects we did? Maybe. But I guess what I hope for most is that they will remember the relationships we had during the year. All good teachers know that at the root of good teaching is a relationship between the child and the teacher. We see it in our classrooms, in our media, in the movies. Relationships. It makes me wonder, with such an emphasis on data these days – collecting, analyzing, using – will our students have the opportunity to have as strong of relationship with their teachers as they did in the past? I don’t know the answer, but I do know that it keeps me up at night. That and wondering who will be kicked off Dancing with the Stars next. Bill Nye? Really? Come now. He has got to go. Anyway, I digress.
The need for a better outcome in education is real. The world that our children are going to inherit is different from the one Mike’s Great Grandfather entered. It is no longer good enough to work hard and “pull yourself up by your bootstraps”. No, children must be better educated today than ever before. This requires hard work, and the political and social climates dictate that there must be measureable outcomes. I get all of that, and even agree to a certain extent to most of it in principle if not in practice. But I worry that in our quest for ever higher standards, ever higher test scores, ever higher achievement we will lose the part of teaching that is so powerful, the relationships.
In my heart of hearts, I know good teachers will find a way to make it happen. But does it make a hard job just that much harder? Is it worth the risk? Only time will tell.