Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Playing Wall-Ball - or: one more thing about getting canned...

the back wall of my classroom - foto by CS
I know said I wasn't going to talk about it anymore; but that was an entire week ago and this is the internets. Who remembers a week ago... am I right?

It's just that, given the outpouring of support, love, and frustration that attended that last post (both here, and on facebook) I think it would be a good idea to add one more thought about the events leading to my termination as a teacher, and that is this:

I have absolutely nothing to be angry about... and I'm not angry.

My four years as a high school art teacher were wonderful. The students were wonderful, the parents were great, my colleagues were superb, and the administration was fantastic. I think you'd be hard-pressed to find another private, Christian institution that gives more freedom to their teachers - allowing them to develop their own curriculum and run their classrooms as they see fit.

As a result, the school has flourished. At our end-of-year awards ceremony this Spring, I was once again astounded at the incredible academic, athletic and personal accomplishments of our students, and I think that's a direct result of a structure that is pretty nearly optimized for the students' benefit.  It's a structure with a whole lotta love built into it.

It is, however, a structure. If structures are to stand the test of time, they need some sort of rigidity to them. They need walls to distinguish where the structure ends, and the boundless outside begins. What got me canned was not that I couldn't handle the existence of those walls; but that I disagreed about the best location for them and the best material for their construction.

It was made clear to me that some of the things I said in class and wrote on this website were outside the walls the school had built for itself, and it was suggested that I come back inside the walls. At that point, I felt I was being asked to make a choice: be authentic and do what I thought was the best and most loving thing for the students - or allow myself to be fully ensconced in a structure with which, frankly, I had some significant theological and philosophical disagreements. I thought - given the significant flexibility and freedom built into the structure of the school - that I could do both. I was wrong.

It was a season in my life, and it was wonderful. And then it was over - which is okay. So, thanks to all the students, who taught me so much. Thanks to my colleagues and to the administrators who supported me so fervently through some very difficult years. Thanks to the parents for allowing me to push their children to open a whole lot of pandoran boxes. Thanks for all the love and, most of all, thanks for all the fish.

Forty-Two.

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