1973 - when I started asking questions, like, "Why are we all dressed so funny?"

Saturday, January 21, 2012

On Subbing for the First Time

The first teaching license I obtained was a substitute but heretofore yesterday I had never subbed. When the call came early yesterday morning, every fiber of my being was saying, "No, I don't want to do this..." But it seemed a little absurd to be seeking work and not say Yes to an opportunity to teach for a day at a charter school.

I approached it with this mantra in mind: The human heart is the same everywhere. Meaning, that despite the awkwardness of being an understudy, these students have a human need and I can help them in whatever way I can help them. So help me, God.

It was actually very pleasant if not completely delightful (for when is work ever thus?). I subbed for a History/Government/Economics teacher and that was good because I'm competent in those areas. I did an impromptu "intelligence test" by writing the following quotations on the board and soliciting volunteers to answer the question Who said that?
  • A little more than kin, and less than kind.
  • I want no intellectual education. ... I would prefer them only to learn what they will acquire freely following their play instinct.
One kid identified the first as Hamlet immediately. He said, "Well, somethings you just know." Wow.

The second quotation is more obscure so I had to give the hint "World War 2". We ran through a list of Who's Who until we got to Adolf Hitler. Hitler said it, but John Dewey certainly thought along similar lines (and he would agree with Hitler that this free play must be guided toward a socially desirable end). Those ends are arguable quite different but the means more similar than dissimilar.

I have only one negative comment about the school I subbed at: the darn 55 minute class periods. Too, too short.

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