Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Great Act of Hope

In prepping a discussion of first year teachers on Ignatian education, I am reading Kevin O’Brien, S. J.’s article “The Classroom as Holy Ground” (America, May 26, 2003 if you are so inclined to read).  In the article he writes:

“…the classroom – the vineyard to which we teachers are called.  There we build and plant, trusting that the harvest will be bountiful one day, even if we are not around to see it. 
Teaching is a great act of hope.”

I’ll admit that before the holiday break, I was feeling a little hopeless about education.  Everywhere I turned, education was villianized and marginalized.  Current educational analysis would have the casual reader questioning Fr. O’Brien’s observations.  Build and plant … trusting a bountiful return some day in the distant future?  Not when test scores are paramount, schools must compete to appease a consumer market of education and outside “experts” legislate from afar.  The seeds these days are low level recall data germinating in multiple test scores aggregated immediately into graphs and charts used to compare and judge.  Any potential for a bountiful harvest (see JD Ferries-Rowe’s post) is terminated by the next test, the next piece of legislation and the next 21st century learning tool.

And then comes along Fr. O’Brien to remind me of the hope.  The hope I see in young faces every morning.  They are not caught up in the arguments of adults over how, when and in what format learning should take place… they are too busy germinating all the seeds sown in their environment.  I see my role in education to engage the conversations.  To cultivate ideas and cherish those which challenge mine. To unleash potential in all the many varied ways available today.  To understand that not everyone learns the same way or the same speed.  To be flexible in how learning is shared and articulated.  In short, to trust: myself, the educators I work with and our students.

I may not see the harvest… but today I am full of hope that it will be amazing!

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