Sunday, August 5, 2007

My Pursuit of Happyness

After watching the popular movie with the above title, I got an idea for this blog. Will Smith portrays a beleagered, single father who is trying to support his son and tryout for a new job as a "Securities Analyist/Salesman" He has to be very smart and it bugs him that his son's daycare storefront sign has misspelled "happiness". Most kids and parents nowadays wouldn't probably even notice this. He also figures out how to do a "Rubik's Cube" which impressively gets him a "call-back" for an intern training position with this prestigious Wall Street Firm. It is known for its "rigorous" training and drop-out-rate. He doggedly doesn't give up no matter what befalls him and his son. i.e. crashing in subway restrooms after being evicted. He has a "resilience" and "reckoning" second to none. Their "relationship" has such a "rapport" that it constantly "rejuvenates" them.

You must know by now where I'm going with this metaphor. There are so many more "R's" that our Public Schools are not even beginning to teach or "test" that it is high time that someone, even a lowly, reluctant, retired substitute teacher, did something about it. If I could even be an "exponent" for the 4th "R" - "Arts" - Performing and Fine, that would be a step in the right direction. Most of our schools do not have time or money or teachers for "the Arts" anymore. "Responsibility", "Relationships", and "Respect", are 3 more "R's" which may not be emphsized in most of our classrooms. Then, again, I could be wrong.

So, maybe, a "fly on the wall" might have some insights into the problems and be able to advocate and expand the "R's" exponentially through rubrics that compare and contrast ideas and curriculum in the same way a "Rubik's Cube" does...very intricately and colorfully. Why rubrics? Well, the dictionary says a "rubric" is a "class or category" a title or a heading. It is from the Latin "rubrica" meaning "red chalk" (thus the red color of my blog's title) When I used to use them when I taught, they were very handy for calling attention to what the "assignment" was about and what it should have in it if it was an essay or report. This made it easier to grade on a scale when it followed or didn't follow the plan of the "rubric".

This is just what I plan to do with my "substitute assignments". Establish some "rubrics" based on the traditional "3 R's" and then raise them to a "higher power" exponentially. i.e. the face of one cube might be: "Where is this assignment/class in reference to a scale on "Rigor vs. Romance"? Is it just rudimentary and rote requiring regurgitation? Is it just redundant and remedial? Or does it reflect and resonate rationale, rhetoric, resourcefulness and rapt rejuvenation for the rambunctious little rascals? How's that for alliterative "r's"? Need I recapitulate? Yes, I want to reconnoiter and even refute or rebut the rumors that our schools are regressive and filled with rancor which rankle our raucous, repugnant rookies. Are teacher's lesson plans mostly review filled with routine which can only result in resentment, resignation, remonstrance and reprimand? Are subs just there to help the students ruminate and to register recalcitration? What regard do the "administrators" have for this process? Are they resources to help with respect and to resolve repartee or are they only there to reprove, refuse and renounce with reproach? I've tried to work with those kind. Hopefully they are long gone like the obsolete set of 3 R's. Sir William Curtis, an alderman who became Lord Mayor of London once presented these misspelled "r's" in a toast thereby betraying his illiteracy. The event was picked up by others and so used from the early 1800's on especially in those "one-room-schoolhouses". This is where my mother began as a teacher. A quick slap on the wrist with a ruler got your attention and motivation when memorizing those required tables and combinations.

This reminds me of a classroom play my students wrote and performed for the school back in 1976. It took a typical classroom through our nation's history. Scene one was "School in 1776". Scene two was "Schoolhouse in 1876". Scene three was "Today's Classroom 1976". and Scene four was what we thought a classroom would be like in 2076. It had strobe lights, computer desks and robot teachers. The theme music to introduce and end the production was "School Daze" (in fact, that was the title of the production) Do you remember that song?

School days, School days
Good ol' golden rule days
Reading and Writing and 'Rithmetic
Taught to the tune of a hickory stick...
As you can see, our schools have come a long way and "happyness" hasn't always been the pursuit. I'd like to continue to change that with my subbing and this blog. Will you join me? RRR

1 comment:

BOB! Your Life Preserver said...

I know it seems almost criminal to "pursue happiness" in a classroom full of kids. Isn't learning supposed to be rigorous and strenuous? Don't we have to work at it order to earn good grades and respect...self respect? That's the question isn't it? Are lessons learned "under stress" better learned? I hope not. RRR