I’m not even just doing this to procrastinate just now – this is seriously interesting to me. It’s what comes of spending two months with nothing but teacher stuff to think of; even an idea I’m too much of a snob to want to waste time on is better than the unending mess of standards and lesson plans and strategies and breaking things down so that they’re simpler, and simpler, and then too simple, and the kids lose interest, and then trying to tease and coddle their interest back… on and on and on. I’m trying. It is right for me to be here. But I don’t know this stuff well enough to make it easy yet. Does that make any sense? I think what I mean is that I know, for instance, page layout design, well enough intuitively to make nice pages, but there are a gazillion things about it that I don’t know that I know, and so don’t know to teach. LIke in photography, where there are certain things that are teachable – like focus and ISO and extra lenses and pixel size – all the things I don’t need to teach, because they have digital cameras that are just good enough to take decent pictures without messing with anything, and just bad enough to not get much better when we mess with things – but everything important I can’t teach without giving it away. I can’t teach creativity, I can’t teach how to know that a particular picture should be taken, or why it should be taken – because I don’t know myself. I take particular pictures because they may come in handy later, but most of them don’t, and I don’t know that those that do come in handy would if I didn’t have a particular style that called for them. It’s all implicit, not explicit knowledge, and now I’m supposed to try to teach it explicitly.\
So with all the time I’ve spent angsting about things like that, I don’t believe I’ve had one good idea question with anyone here. And they’re all in the same boat. So I don’t know who the idea people are here, and I very much wish that I did. Because my mind isn’t content with questions of how to make implicit knowledge explicit faster than naturally occurs in the order of things, and grasps at anything and everything that can possibly be analyzed. Because there are two things that I very much like doing: making art that requires time, order, and patience; and analyzing ideas. Neither of them are much called for as a high school teacher. In fact, the latter pastime is discouraged, because it doesn’t help most of the students, and makes me more likely to question authority.
So I was thinking about Twilight again just now, because I’m becoming more and more convinced that the characters wanted to tell a different kind of story, but the author wouldn’t have been able to pull it off, , and was perhaps not wise enough yet, and didn’t want to deal with an untidy ending, and so forced them into a pattern they weren’t heading toward.
But, really, that’s not a worthy topic and I know it. I also know that the only reason I’m thinking about it is because my head is starved for something to try itself against – something that I’m good at to try itself against, not aligning curriculum – and hasn’t been given anything but school stuff lately. Analyzing school has in the past, and is likely to remain, profoundly unhelpful, because the basic shape and structure of the thing is wrong. I have to think about my discipline without giving any thought to how fifty minute periods with somebody staring over your shoulder is a terrible way to learn digital design. And there my head is again, saying “this does not bear thought!” I wonder if there’s any way to talk with any of the other teachers about their subject areas. Not how they teach it (that’s easy enough to broach), but the stuff itself. I want to know what Lief loves about math, and what Dusti loves about science, and what Chris loves about woodworking. That would be so much more interesting – and broadening – than hearing how they deal with disruptive students, or organize activities, or produce lesson plans.