Eugene Victor Debs, 1922
“Ten thousand times has the labor movement stumbled and bruised itself. We have been enjoined by the courts, assaulted by thugs, charged by the militia, traduced by the press, frowned upon in public opinion, and deceived by politicians. 'But notwithstanding all this and all these, labor is today the most vital and potential power this planet has ever known, and its historic mission is as certain of ultimate realization as is the setting of the sun.”- Eugene Debs
I count myself blessed to be a part of this vocation. To teach is such amazing work, and so difficult. Part of why I was drawn into the education side of math rather than the research side of math is the social relevance, but it also appealed to the math me because it is such a hard problem. We know so much and yet it is a tiny part of what we need to know to support real learning. Every class from 6 to 60 new people with different experiences and different needs that you want to lead to new learning in a subject that people consider the toughest... alright! That's a problem worth solving.
This work has led me to dozens of schools, and given me the opportunity to work with scores of teachers, and to educate hundreds more. Never have I encountered a group more likely to be intent to seek the good of others, and be willing to sacrifice themselves to do it. OK, maybe the monks I lived with... maybe.
It is a continual mystery to me why we don't have more of a voice in education policy. Bill Gates has more of a voice than we do. The only hope we have of gaining a voice is to stand together. As any group, we have made and will make mistakes. Some unions have made gains that are not to their own benefit, let alone the students. But if we are going to be a profession, we need to stand together.
Full list of blogposts supporting edusolidarity. (Google Spreadsheet.)
Unity does not require uniformity. Groups of people that agree completely about everything usually have one member. We are going to work alongside teachers who believe in 20 minutes of lecture and 50 repetitive homework problems with no assessment other than the unit test. We are going to work alongside geniuses who see math throughout their life and lead students to forge their own understanding - while mastering the skills needed to excel on the state test. All these teachers are likely to be doing what they're doing because they think it is the best thing for their students.
Given the choice of these people giving their heart and lives to students and... well, it's not actually clear who the alternative is. Youtube videos? Faceless corporations? Tax cuts for businesses?
That's not a problem. I support teachers.
“Solidarity is not a matter of sentiment but a fact, cold and impassive as the granite foundations of a skyscraper. If the basic elements, identity of interest, clarity of vision, honesty of intent, and oneness of purpose, or any of these is lacking, all sentimental pleas for solidarity, and all other efforts to achieve it will be barren of results.”- Eugene Debs
Photo credit: cliff1066@Flickr