150. Bridges

When I first started writing these articles, I told you that I hoped to build bridges with them. I hope that’s been happening. But it occurred to me that I may also be burning bridges with them. I’ve let you know, for example, that I am an atheist, that I’m not the patriot you may be, and that I don’t have the reading habit. If I (“they”?) cure multiple sclerosis, and I want to find employment in public schools again, these confessions may work against me. And if I find a publisher, and let more people read what I’m saying in these articles, I may be digging myself in even deeper.
But I’m not seriously worried about it. The chances are slim that a cure will be found before the year 2013, when I would have to retire anyway. The chances are even slimmer that I will ever want to trade this retired life – a life of writing, volunteering in a school, spending relaxed time with friends, spending other relaxed time by myself on the bike path – for the grind that used to earn me a bigger income. But it’s too bad that there isn’t a safe forum for all teachers to let parents know what they’re thinking. As in many jobs, teachers keep a lot inside, or only tell other teachers whom they trust. As I used to talk with other teachers, I was often surprised and delighted that another teacher agreed with me on a point that I had thought set me apart. Sometimes I heard parents’ opinions, and knew it would be considered “unprofessional” to express my own agreement or disagreement. The “professional” thing to do is to maintain some kind of distance. I understand the possible risk we take when we tell other people in the community what’s on our minds. The rumor mill may distort what we say, or at least spread it around in a context that puts it in the wrong light. It’s not easy to be a teacher, though it can be well worth the effort. But when community reactions put a teacher on the defensive, it can be a nightmare. I believe in the power of communication. I think great things can happen when people understand each other. I don’t know exactly how to facilitate that communication when it comes to the thoughts of teachers, parents, administrators, and children. Sometimes my own articles are reflections of what I hear people say. But wouldn’t you like to hear it first-hand?

Comments are closed.