40 for 40
Upon retiring from public and private school classrooms after 40 years as a physicist who was “called” to teach physics and higher math to college-bound high school juniors (11th grade) and seniors (12th grade), I had accumulated over time certain sayings, thoughts, mores, musings, beliefs, philosophies, etc. I decided to pen 40 of them, one for each year of my teaching career. I do not pretend all of them are originally mine, as I’m sure many are paraphrases and/or plagiarisms of sentences that have personal meaning. Many are school-related in particular, education-related in general, or related to both inside and outside the classroom — to life itself. There is no order, as I left them in the sequence of my writing them down; therefore, they are not numbered, not only to remind the reader of their random sequencing, but also to remind they have to me no hierarchy — placing them in some order of importance is a prerogative of the reader, not a preference of mine. Perhaps they will in part or whole have meaning or usefulness to the reader. My highest hope is that they will in part or whole be thought-provoking.
(In-depth commentary upon many of these can be found throughout the posts under the title Beyond Good and Evil, on this site www.ronniejhastings.com .)
=> Unquestioning faith is not a virtue; it is a disability.
=> Knowledge is power for self-control and self-determinaton; knowledge is freedom of thought; knowledge carries with it the responsibility to pass it on to others.
=> Respect must be earned, not freely given nor expected.
=> There is no science of education.
=> Believe what people do, not what people say.
=> Einstein was right about what he said about the universe not because he was Einstein, but because the universe behaves as he said.
=> Schools are for the students, of the students, and (for upper grades) by the students.
=> The language of the universe is mathematics.
=> To be a great teacher, one only needs to be 1) competent and 2) caring.
=> Everything can and should be questioned, even this sentence.
=> Everything can be made fun of, but only if you include yourself and everything you hold sacred.
=> Don’t try to foist your values off on others, especially when they are not solicited.
=> We all are children of the stars; we are starstuff.
=> Human existence is starstuff in self-contemplation and in contemplation of all other starstuff.
=> Funerals are for the living, not for the dead.
=> Marriages are for the community of the bonded pair, not for the bonded pair.
=> It is highly probable men and women cannot understand each other, for, were that understanding possible, the fascination for each other necessary for pair bonding (& necessary for the propagation of the species) would not be near as intense. The two sexes were meant to “drive each other crazy,” so that we will always fall in love.
=> Schools are not businesses; schools are not sports teams; schools are not technology exhibitions; schools are not expensive baby-sitting facilities.
=> Schools ARE facilitators of developing students’ minds, coordinated by a group of professional colleagues called the faculty.
=> Education is multi-pathed communication among students and teachers.
=> Personal tastes and choices (e.g. food, drink, music, sports, literature, politics, religion, life styles, etc.) are not to be mandated by society; ethical behavior (e.g. The Golden Rule), on the other hand, is NOT a matter of taste.
=> Science is reliable because it is never considered sacred or finished; nor is science held beyond vicious self-scrutiny, which also makes it reliable.
=> Science is not so much “believed in” as it is “subscribed to,” as if subscription to any and all theories can be changed when a better alternative or better alternatives come(s) along.
=> Teaching is never better than when the teacher tries to “teach his/herself out of a job.” No greater gift can a teacher give a student than the self-confidence that the student can learn the curriculum just as well without the teacher.
=> The teacher who does not learn from the students is not paying attention to his/her classes.
=> Particular courses that should be added to public secondary school curricula (required or elective) are 1) philosophy, 2) comprehensive, responsible sex education, 3) comparative religion, and 4) the Bible as literature.
=> Teachers are not 2nd class blue collar workers; they are professionals, like medical doctors, veterinarians, and lawyers.
=> School administrators are too often nothing more than over-paid hall monitors; their job is to support classroom teachers, not manage them.
=> The highest paid professionals in a school district should be tenured teachers.
=> Students are the clients of teachers; teachers work for their clients, not for administrators, school districts, States, or nations.
=> Teacher contracts should not contain the word “insubordination.” Administrators are supporting peers of teachers, not teachers’ “bosses.”
=> Education courses are unnecessary for teacher certification; only a period of classroom “student teaching” is.
=> “Lesson plans” are unnecessary; they only fill administrators’ filing cabinets; teachers individually develop the syllabi by which they teach day-by-day.
=> As professionals, teachers should mentor teachers-to-be, who function in the classroom in a secretarial role and observe the “nuts & bolts” of teaching as part of their “student teaching” requirements.
=> HR departments of school districts are support staff for teachers, not strong arms of the district administration.
=> For each subject a teacher teaches, it should be taught as if it is absolutely vital every student knows its content; students should feel the teacher’s passion for the subject.
=> Teachers should be hired and fired by other teachers.
=> Outside the classroom a teacher should have interests beyond his/her specialty; a teacher should have an extracurricular mental life.
=> Schools waste taxpayers’ money through at least two corrupt “good ol’ boy” systems: 1) promoting administrators’ careers via favoritism instead of merit, and 2) exclusive use of school supply companies that deal in ridiculously inflated prices.
=> Understanding does NOT necessarily also mean agreement.