This I sent last night to Brian O’Connell and the folks at Golden Apple, and I thought it was a nice reflection of the trip they so generously afforded me:
So first of all, thanks. Thanks to you and all the people with Golden Apple who made my trip possible. Going to the Smithsonians is probably the best place to get all kinds of excellent (free) information, teaching presentation methodology, and materials in many disciplines in a very small geographic area. I plan to put together my video materials that I made, but that will take some time, of which I am currently, withal, in short supply.
While there, I spoke with Senator Udall, met with his education liaison, met with Michelle Lujan Grisham’s education liaison, spoke with them about the need for there to be a preference for teacher made, not publisher made, curriculum and testing, and sent follow up notes. I don’t expect there will be a sudden change, or that I even made much of an impression, however, I believe in working to make change. All listened politely and even to some extent encouraged further activism. I will continue to do what I can do.
The other thing is, I really needed to be there. I was there to make amends with our national schizophrenia about public education. I inventory my own worth as a teacher fairly frequently, and then question the worth of the profession within the technological, political, and economic vectors that constantly influence or disparage the profession.
Some balm for my ennui is the presence of the Smithsonians themselves. Interspersed with the offices of our government up and down the National Mall are the collection of Smithsonians. Massive edifices mixed with monuments, our national heroes, these tributes to public education. Free information, available to all, the DNA of informed democracy. Of the people, by the people- no qualifier with economics, race, preferences. This did shore my confidence. Even though I had read of where I was going, being there was the thing. I am not a person who is refreshed by the cold stone creations of people; I do much better with a tree than a monument. Still, the markers placed there to articulate the things We think important are impressive. The effort spent to record the words of history, the knowledge accumulated and hard lessons learned in science and in history, they do reinforce the values one would hope to be reinforced, and echo the large questions of existence of individual and society, and so, of course, left me with again an echo of ennui.
Back into the classroom then, where the fountain of youth flows for me and my ennui. Such a great word, just thought I would beat it to death here. Ennui, ennui, ennui. Kids, far greater than those monuments, rise above me and lift me up. Tall kids, you say. Yes, in their expectation of me and the world, and now with this bit of renown from the Apple, perhaps more. I shall have to live up to the wide-eyed expectation of children some day. Meanwhile, I will settle into some chips and salsa, and be glad for their company. Speaking of, and as you know, my daughters and wife were there for all this. What a perfect time for them to do to this, at 13. My daughters, not my wife. They are twins, methinks you know. Anyway. What a thing. What a great gift, the Golden ticket I was given. For my whole family, for my students. For me. Repetitive, endless, thanks.