Tag Archives: ayers


“I believe that life in school must be thought of as life itself, not simply preparation for later life.” – Ayers, To Teach


I keep getting up in all this preparation, the training, the observing, the practicing but I have been forgetting something. There are those eternal questions, the questions that fill those late nights that seem to happen only sporadically.


I remember talking until dawn on countless occasions, filling the air with conversations on science and philosophy, existentialism and existence, determinism and free will. Some of the questions might seem pointless as I grow a little older every day, but they aren’t.


Those kind of conversations – the conversations that delve into what’s really real, what’s really important, what’s really happening and why – are so vital to the human experience. Education, that word alone carries a weight above the world. What is it? Why do we need it? What is progress? Are we better off than we were before?


I remember a story my dad told me when I was younger. I thought it was stupid at the time, but it has really got me thinking recently – A poor fisherman goes out fishing and meets a man who teaches him how he can pack some fish to sell. Later he tells him that with a new net and a new method he can catch even more fish and open up a shop. Eventually he can hire people to fish, pack and ship the fish. He can hire boats and crews to fish. The process is very efficient, the fisherman becomes very rich and operates his business from the city. “Now what?” asks the fisherman. The man tells him that he can retire and find a cottage and go fishing at his leisure.


The story didn’t make sense to me when I was young. I thought that being rich – having things was all that mattered. But I grow older everyday. I watch that a year has passed in only a moment. I went from repairing printers to married and on my way to becoming a teacher. When did this happen? How did this happen?


Many times I’m in class and wondering what I’m going to do next. Or I’m out of class and planning for the next moment. Everything is always in motion. There are a million things going on at once.



I look at my students, diverse in ideas, culture, and personality. I don’t want to sell them on a false future. I want them to fall in love with learning – because that’s what life is about. We listen to each other, we learn from each other, we find each other and we find the world we’re living in a new world. A world to go fishing. If you like to fish.

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A tale of two schools

There is a big difference in the number ten, more than I could have imagined.

Having ten more students in a place that feels a tenth the size (of my previous classroom) makes it all the more difficult. Thinking back to Ayers, I agree that a quiet classroom doesn’t equal a learning classroom, but it sure is hard to transition with the level of noise in the classroom at any given time. When you don’t have the physical space to create an environment for learning, you just sort of make-do. The classroom doesn’t even have enough space for students to sit around for a read aloud. There isn’t space to work on projects bigger than a desk. Clutter is an issue. It seems like everything is an issue.

The students are clever, very clever. I’m still trying to learn their names. The students seem to “feed” off the chaos. When it’s time to pick up off the ground, some students just hide under their desks. When it’s time for silent reading, a line forms up to use the restroom. The environment isn’t the best for them, so it’ll take something more. It’ll take engagement to a new level. That seems like the only way. The class is diverse – but using the diversity could be key to engaging the students. No one said this would be easy.

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