Thursday, November 05, 2009

The classroom as a metaphor

I've spent most of my life in the classroom. First as a public school student for 13 years. Then in various training classes in the Coast Guard, followed by seven years of higher education, and finally, 30 years of teaching. The classroom has become my metaphor for life. In many ways it is a little microcosm of our larger political landscape.

The school is my metaphorical nation. The principal is like the president presiding over a collection of classrooms which are like states. Each classroom has a governor, a teacher who tries to secure funding and manage it for the benefit of the citizens of her state; her classroom.

Just as different states have different concerns, so do different classes. The needs of art class are different from biology or math.

And individual classrooms and administrators operate as conservatives and liberals. Conservatives emphasize the tried and true basics, the three Rs. They understand the need for authority, discipline and structure. No monkey business. Liberals believe that the desire to learn is innate and what should be learned will be learned in an open, student-centered experimental environment. No need to stifle natural curiosity.

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