To the driver of the red Honda who was opening her door this morning in front of the Monday Bakery on Napa Street, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you as I rode by but I wasn’t paying my normal amount of necessary-bike-riding-attention and I nearly ran into your opening door. Luckily, I swerved as I yelled out, “Close one” (one of my favorite Keanu lines from “Point Break”) and then we were both able to continue our morning routines.
My old friend Homeostasis is back. I haven’t taught Biology 1 in a few years (in our little alternative high school we teach whatever the students need) and I was not digging the first few days until I met with Miki at SVMA and realized how it is all connected and I need to just suck it up, change what I can and forget the rest.
Spring starts in January for teachers. That’s when we do our planning for the semester and if you are like me (thankfully, there are no other teachers like me) you fill your days with not only the core subjects (Bio 1, Phys Sci 2, Alg 1, Geo 2) but giant Art projects (signage for SIFF and the Authors Festival, a new word displayed at the DiRosa, programs at SVMA and the community center). And did I mention the tennis team which I am very nervous about this year after having to cancel the season last year because of only one student trying out.
So, what does this have to do with Homeostasis? Well, everything, as in from the time I get up at 5:30 to when I return to bed about 10, the only way to survive and prosper is to keep my balance. Unfortunately, sometimes things go off the rails (life) and all you can do is take responsibility, mop up and move on which is why I am apologizing to the Honda driver above.
And while I’m at it I’m sorry to all those students whose test scores have decreased in the last few years, especially in math. Now, I know we have a different agenda at my school (engagement and graduation) but I still hate to see skills decrease because, like the tennis team, it is my job to foster success and growth and all that. That being said, if you’ve ever read any of these columns you know that I strongly believe that the education system is not keeping up with the changing needs of society and students.
I also believe very strongly that learning is actually changing because we now have supercomputers in our hands 24/7 so maybe it’s time to start celebrating the evolution of education and focus on the educational concepts which students are not able to solve on their phones: gratitude for nature, interaction with others, civility, all that stuff I’ve been writing about over the years.
‘You’re not teaching us shit we need in life.” Sorry for the colorful language but this quote has become a mantra in my teaching because even though I follow standards, I have a lot of autonomy and so this week we not only learned about Area in Geometry, we calculated how much it would cost to paint our entire school (measure walls, calculate area, divide by how much a gallon of paint covers and what it will cost at Friedmans-$238.00 total in case you were wondering). The logic being that the more real- life examples students do, the less they will complain about sitting in class and once the ball of knowledge starts rolling, so does interest in life. And isn’t that the whole goal of education, getting students interested in life?
Phones are killing us, period. I have a 7:22 on my board which stands for 7 hours, 22 minutes, the average time high school age kids are on their phones per day. Wonder why kids aren’t playing, learning, interacting, feeling happy, trying, failing and trying again? Chris Pine said it best on why he doesn’t have a cell phone, “I could tell you everything about Pete Davidson and Kim Kardashian but not a fucking thing about literature.” Welcome to the new world.
I am shocked at what life has turned into when I read the papers in the morning. That is until I hop on my trusty Schwinn cruiser and pedal to work, starting my day with a shot of dopamine through exercise which often lasts until the end of classes, or at least until Art class where I can replenish with creative dopamine. Unfortunately, when you are getting all your dopamine from the little box in your hand, guess what you want to do instead of creating in art class?
But we have to try, we have to teach the next generation not only how natural dopamine is much better than the dopamine of getting likes and that getting likes is much less important than engaging in life. But when parents and society are also addicted it’s hard to get the message across, and we usually only change the things which affect us directly. Society is getting, and will continue to get, not only more polarized but less intelligent (and it’s not just the cannabis).
Solutions? Sure, either toss the phones like Elton John, Ed Sheeran, Tom Cruise, Tyra Banks, Justin Bieber, Kate Beckinsale, Chris Pine, Fran Lebowitz, Warren Buffett, Michael Cera, Shailene Woodley, Christopher Walken, Christopher Nolan, Simon Cowell, Vince Vaughn, Dolly Parton, Sarah Jessica Parker not to mention about half the world who have other things like food, shelter and water to worry about. Or find your homeostasis outside, like in the real world, like right now, like finish this blog, walk outside, look around, say hi to strangers, be in the world.
Just watch out for red Hondas.