Sickness and Health

By Tuesday evening, I thought the Summer Bug had run its course.  I had successfully sat up, stood up, showered, dressed, and even eaten something like a normal meal.  “I guess I’ll be able to do what I’d planned to do on Wednesday,” I thought to myself as I got ready for bed.

Of course we all know what happened then, in the morning.  The coughing, the nausea, the chills, the exhaustion – everything returned.  No planned stuff for me today, it seems.

I know my body is sending me a message – a strong one.  It doesn’t like the planned stuff, apparently,  And I don’t disagree: the big thing on the agenda was an optional training of trainers, following up on the meeting I’d attended last week.  “Since you all came today and helped me plan it,” said the Relevant Power, “you really don’t have to come on Wednesday unless you want to.”

Evidently my body didn’t want to.  And it spoke … loudly.  So loudly that I couldn’t do anything but listen.

I’m reminded of a student I’ll call X because I don’t actually remember her name.  She had “attendance problems” last year – and she has them every year.  She gets sick, and Ms. X and Mr. Y get angry because they’re just sure she’s not really sick.  “Her Mama needs to make that girl get out of bed and come to school!” One Ms. X intoned in March or April, when X had already “missed too many days,” as school people say.  I’ve never taught X, but I have a feeling she’s sick of a lot of things: sick of being yelled at and labeled, sick of unbending factory-school structures, sick of worksheets and copying notes from PowerPoint slides and copying definitions from The Textbook and listening to Ms. X’s lectures.

Come to think of it, if I do remember her name, I think I saw it last week, on a preliminary class list that I generated during That Training.  Could it be that I’m called back to the factory, at least for a little while, to give X a non-factory experience?

On Google+ yesterday, I came across an exciting Hybrid Pedagogy post by Verena Roberts about applying open education models in K-12 environments.  It seems she’s created MOOCS (the good old connectivist kind, not the xMOOCs that are now so popular) for teachers and students to participate in together, and others for students to co-create themselves.  Is that, too, a model for me to follow in but not of the factory system?  Would such an opportunity, perhaps starting out as “just” a collaboration among the Tres Columnae Project schools, excite and encourage students and coasters like X (to use Ginger Lewman’s terminology again) and transform them back into the learners they naturally are underneath?

And what about a conversation that just started, with a teacher-friend who’s sick of factory-structures and standardized testing?  Where will that lead?  What about the excellent suggestions about marketing, which “just happened” to arrive as I was attempting, slowly and groggily, to re-read Daniel Pink’s book To Sell Is Human?  What about this amazing piece that Debbie “just happened” to send me yesterday evening?

The threads are all connected, but I still don’t know how … and the short-term picture still seems bleak as my body works to heal itself.  But hope grows in the midst of despair, and healing grows from sickness … and maybe, just maybe, the joyful community will grow from the ashes of the factory-system that’s run its course, burnt itself out, and left its participants as exhausted as the Summer Bug is leaving me.

What do you think?


Published in: on August 14, 2013 at 2:09 pm  Leave a Comment  

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