A Failure to Communicate

I've always been a fan of 1960s counter-culture films, especially Cool Hand Luke, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Easy Rider. I've always been proud of my own rebellious streak, but it can yield mixed results in the world of teaching.

On the one hand, I believe a true education is based on questioning. Having a teacher who is constantly questioning themselves, conventional wisdom (re:pedagogy, NCLB, etc.) and authority can definitely be a benefit for students. This is especially true if the teacher is questioning ideas or policies that seem to be detrimental for students.

On the other hand, in the real world of education, especially an incredibly bureaucratic realm like NYC schools, there doesn't seem to be much room for antiheroes like Cool Hand Luke or McMurphy. This has been a difficult lesson for me, and one I'm still slow to learn. Recently the frustration level has increased as time after time I walk away from a conversation with a co-worker, professor or administrator asking myself, "What was I thinking?"

Sometimes I wish I would just shut up, keep my head down and do my own thing until I've got tenure. But somehow, I don't think I'm going to be able to do that no matter how hard I try.


I am similar in that I just have to say what is on my mind. I hate silence, which is why my classroom is not a den of silence. Personally, I don't get why some administrators think education has to be either this or that, can't it be a combination of many other things?

There is a time to keep your mouth shut, that is true. You get a sense of your colleagues, which ones agree, which ones don't, which ones can screw you if you say the wrong thing. Just be smart about it.

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