Saturday, March 28, 2015

Beginnings: Doorways We Walk Through (#SOL15, Day 28)

House by the Tracks (M.A. Reilly, 2009)

I.

Edward Said wrote that “a beginning is accepted as a beginning after we are long past beginning and after our apprenticeship is over” (1975, Beginnings: Intention and Method, p.76). Being beyond a moment often helps us to reframe it.

Tonight, I am wondering about the partial beginnings I have known.

In writing about the partially unknown beginning, Said explains “that we make and accept it at the same time that we realize that we are ‘wrong’” ( p. 78).  In reading Said's words, I think about the messiness of school.  We have accepted schools as they have been made.  Fictions and realities are co-constructed on a page, as well as in a classroom--in the school house. These fictions, these realities serve us little.

There are new doorways, we need to walk through if we can find the courage to do so. 

II.

In the current push for the Common Core State Standards and “tougher” normed assessments that dedicate weeks out of the school year for preparation and testing the folly of our ways is more and more obvious. Our need for certainty obscures that learning has always been a human enterprise, temporally located, fictitious and real.  

Yes, fictitious and real. 

Schooling though is not the same as learning. It never has been--even when we needed it to be so. The schools we have known--the ones we have made are ending. And tonight I know that another generation will not sit tight for the dusting off of something old, something too blue, something they no longer need. The signs are everywhere. 

Identity is composed in the joining of fictions and realities—be it on paper or in the lived-curriculum of a classroom.  Said explains that this composition holds constant “so long as we have language to help us and hinder us in finding it, and so long as language provides us with a word whose meaning must be made certain if it is not to be wholly obscure” (p.78). The meaning of school can no longer be made certain. 

What gets made in its stead, interests me, even though I know what we make can't help but be wrong.

8 comments:

  1. Partial beginnings I have known:
    a poem left dangling on the page
    a song without the melodic hook
    a letter never sent and lost
    a friend who drifted and I let them
    an apology I said to myself but not to you
    a comment that I began to write but never fin....

    :)
    Kevin

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    1. Love your list of partial beginnings. I've known most of those too.

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  2. This argument for change in schools comes to the forefront each testing "season" in these NCLB years, as we get deeper and deeper in the trench of unsubstantiated "assessment". I hope that the trench does not get so deep that we cannot hear the cries of those at the bottom, teachers and parents and students, buried in data that doesn't provide a ladder out.

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    1. Hard for data to matter, if we do not value the measures.

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  3. Schooling though is not the same as learning. It never has been--even when we needed it to be so. The schools we have known--the ones we have made are ending. And tonight I know that another generation will not sit tight for the dusting off of something old, something too blue, something they no longer need. The signs are everywhere.
    Something so positive and elemental... let the victims of school reform SAY NO!!!!

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    1. I think many are saying no. As alternatives arise and are made, the value of school as we know it will become more limited.

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  4. Your thoughts, and commentary on Edward Said's thoughts, are prompting me to think about schools, what they are for, who decides, and the children who are funneled through them never knowing what they are doing there, some wanting to escape as soon as possible, others hiding behind their books, others trying to figure out what's expected of them and rarely learning how to figure out what to expect for themselves. There's much to think about here -- thank you!

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    1. I agree Emma. The idea of schooling is filled with ambiguity. What we do next is unknown. Carrying on the way we have? Not likely. Hope you'll post some of your thoughts...

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