Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Blogging Hiatus

I'll admit it. I've been ignoring my blog. I have failed in my self-imposed assignment to write at least once a week. I give myself a 'F.'
Here's why I've avoided the weekly summing up: It's been depressing out there in the world of political wrangling over health-care and education in the midst of a bleak economy.
In health care, I want it all: public options. For personal reasons as well as professional.
I want my son, a new father who works hard every day, to be able to have the peace of mind that health care brings. He's a breadwinner who has NO safety net. AND he works in a physically threatening job: landscaping.
I want my under served students to be able to eat and stay healthy. Their families should not have to choose between good health and food on the table or a roof over their heads. Those are pretty basic needs that our country should be able to offer. Many of the families I serve live under the stress of that threat daily.
In education, I want REAL reform. Not a new test, but a whole new way of looking at the work of teachers.
Following the political debating from day-to-day has been depressing. I needed a break.
But in the weeks of watching the arguing, I have found a parallel in the health-care/education realms.
It's all about the love.
I listened to doctors explaining how the corporate world of health-care for profit has changed the landscape of their daily work, and it reminded me of teacher complaints. We are in the same business: making people's lives better. How can wall street profit from that?
And yet, in both education and health care, other interests are making demands on our time. Doctors' work is translated into less time spent with patients (dictated by the cost formulas of insurance companies).
Teacher work is carved up into testing graphs, CFA's, curriculum maps, all to serve outside bean counters. Time is continually robbed from students by shifting teacher attention to work outside the classroom.
One doctor, at the end of a 45-minute documentary I saw about changing the focus of the entire medical profession back to the patient, expressed it as love.
In essence he said, "What we are really offering is love, not a product. When one person gives of himself to help another that is the basis of love. That is what healthcare is all about."
That is what teaching is too.
I had that notion confirmed today in this Washington Post review by teacher Nancy Schnog of Bel Kaufman's 1964 book Up the Down Staircase. I never read the book but I will have to get my hands on a copy. Bel, who Schnog had the opportunity to meet this summer, still says that all of teaching happens in the human connections.
The rest is just window dressing.