I have been teaching for 17 years. I taught for 10 starting in the 90’s. Then went to work in the tech industry for about 10 years and have been back in the classroom for the last 7 years. I have twin obsessions: adolescent development and transparent systems. I came back to the classroom because the only way we build a sustainable world is with liberatory education. The short answer to why liberatory education: students are able to be positive agents in their own lives. We have perverted our world with governance by an unaccountable few over a subjugated many.
I have been at Oakland Technical High School in the Oakland Unified School District for the last seven years trying to be a hero while decrying the egotism of the heroism I thought I was not pursuing. It’s a bad tactic. We are on strike and I think I have cast myself as some sort of truth-teller? But, in reality, as it always has been with me, my truth is quixotic — which I now understand to mean “useless even if true”. Don Quixote is the hero I have always wanted to be. I have always imagined him to be righteous if not right — exalted by his madness. The attraction is that I can be both righteous and alone. Community is difficult.
My story goes at least one layer deeper than that. When I came back to the classroom 7 years ago I had a series of axioms that I hoped would provide some guardrails for my work:
- There is very little value to being right
- Neighborliness over purity
- Be one of many
I have been a better teacher because of these and these have been instrumental in helping me understand how I can make sense of the world and my place in it. It seems that maybe I have not internalized enough what my value can be. I have spent a lot of time being angry this year. Angry white man.
So, once again, I am going to try and let go of being right. I don’t know how to understand my rival windmills any more but I need to let go of trying.
I am a teacher and a builder. I’m good at it.
Next year I will be moving to Coliseum College Preparatory Academy (CCPA) for a fresh start. I am grateful for the opportunity.