In Which There is a Nightmare

21 08 2008

In the dream, I was rushing to the school, key poised to turn the lock and proceed into my classroom. I was running late, kiddos would already be arriving and I hadn’t had my first cup of coffee yet. I slid the key into the lock and turned. Nothing. I try the lock once more, only to realize I am barred from the school. Peering through the glass in the door I see the children – when did they arrive? did they pass me? pass through me? – being led throughout the halls by their teachers, my friends. I begin pounding on the door, yelling for someone to let me into the school. My anxiety continues to rise as I think about my own students placing their backpacks in their cubbies and settling into writing without a teacher to guide the mini lesson. I begin running toward the side door and as I arrive, it disappears into the brick.

I suddenly remember that I am no longer here. I run to my car and drive for Indiana. Quickly. I arrive at the border where I stop at a booth. Staffing the booth is a wide-eyed woman who quickly asks me my purpose.

“I’m learning at uncovering new knowledge at the University.” I hand over a plastic ID card to the woman and she slides it through a machine on her counter. It blinks. She looks up at me. She blinks.

“I’m sorry, sir, but it says you have been denied. You will not be able to enter.”

I turn my car around, driving for a bit, then park on the road, upset and heaving.

And then I woke up. The dream’s stayed with me as I’ve worked through my day, designing a syllabus for a new class added to my docket this morning. As I design the instruction that will happen in these learning spaces over the course of the semester, I am reminded that I am teaching these individuals how to teach children, which reminds me about how much I miss working with children. As a graduate student, I have read  thousands of pages of research detailing how to make reading and writing instruction better for children, how to make schooling better for children, yet I have failed to see a single child as part of my coursework.

As I prepare for the education of my students, as well as my own education as a student, I wrestle with this Borderland, as Anzaldua would call it. I am an educational researcher, occupying that strange space between the schools and the academy, the pragmatic and the ideal. I constantly negotiate and renegotiate the demands of each, attempting not to lose myself in the process. It’s a frustrating space to occupy; it wasn’t difficult to assume this path but, damn, has it been painful. It’s the realization that I will always be removed some degree from the classroom that smarts, only eclipsed by the strange sensation that when I did occupy that space fully and thoughtfully I didn’t recognize it for what it was. I failed to recognize the beauty in the quotidian; simply because it was everyday, so readily available, did not make it any less valuable for it would, as all things do, pass.

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