Interview

My interview with Dusty Miller, the principal of the Museum school in 2007, was one of those moments where I saw myself – assessed my thoughts, decisions and desires – as we weaved in and out of resume and conversation. I had recently resigned from a post at Harrison high school – a difficult post that challenged not only my principles of teaching, but my desire to work with more academically motivated students. This school was not a good fit for teachers who want to teach because they wanted teachers who allow students and parents to rule their classrooms.
So Dusty asked me what I would like to have the kids walk away with from my course. In this one question a monologue unfolded. In an intuitive instant, the principle values of my second life’s (second career) work had to be summed up, and then gracefully spit out. So starting with the pat good intentions, I began to dexterously paint a picture of a classroom of lessons that would help young people not feel so mis-directed in a chaotic world – to feel they can find a right path – a safe place to express their viewpoint while building self esteem through their process of learning those needed skills for success (reading and writing!!). Dusty nodded politely, which encouraged me to continue ‘I hoped to build a place where students walk away with a sense of their lives in a real world context of war, depressions and famine, as well as the joys when wrongs in history are made right.’ Then in the blink of an eye, the honest thought/desire of what I want from my students flashed across my brain screen and illuminated => Obedience, discipline, curiosity, fearlessness, passion, and an interest in the story history give us.
For me, the events we cover in my courses, are made personal. Nothing is arbitrary. Each study becomes a window into the human condition. For example today we were examining the Black Plague and I just finished a lesson on the economic impacts. While I was writing the characteristics of the post-plague economy, I was overcome by the similarities to the Great Depression and the 2008 economic crisis – history providing a means to understanding the moment – how I see my world. If my students can feel that connection, and then apply it to their own lives, they walk away from the class changed. Examining the past is the key to having a psychic change, and for me, the key to finding my right path.
As I work though feelings of marginalization in my day to day consciousness, the classroom provides a forum where my consciousness can find meaning. Underneath this idealism, I want my students to be able to think logically through their passions, and to write effectively.
This blog/project, like a school paper, is hopefully telling the story, through these short clippings of prose. All the divergent events of my life coming to this moment in time. There are beginning points to different eras of being, and major turning points. As I experience the moment in any given day, I hope to somehow be able to frame that in an engaging written expression. The key element will be truth, but hoping that it clearly beats a rhythym – lyric pulse – like an actor’s story painting a scene. My biggest fear is overtly idealist dramatics and mediocrity.

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