The expectation was seemingly ubiquitous. It was assumed, unquestioned, and therefore accepted, both externally and internally. That is, that: One who graduates with a degree in Early Childhood Education begins a job immediately in a public school, not far from, if not in, the location of the student teaching practicum. I found myself surfing this wave into the expected future without ever having consciously chosen to venture into the water.
A critical look at my own future with regards to education followed, an exploration inextricably bound to my inquiry into the deeper meaning of education. I found myself on a personal mission, doing my best to seek information yet unlearned, finding various snippets that felt “right” within texts of writers such as Freire, Holt, Kozol, Delpit, Neill, Noddings and Ayers.
Through such wonderfully captivating readings and supplemental discourse with various colleagues spanning the gamut of educational involvement, I have come to feel that my place is not in a “traditional” school, doing my best to work within while pushing the boundaries of an oppressive system, aiming to cultivate and spread a more democratic framework outward from my microcosm. Rather, it is within this democratic framework wherein I can strengthen and hone my understanding of integral terms such as teaching, learning, sharing, curriculum, and pedagogy.
While I am fully aware of the necessity for practicality’s sake, I deem the language of “alternative education” somewhat self-damning. Democratic education is true education. It is malleable, sensitive, dynamic, meaningful, shared, lasting, beautiful, and variant learning. According to my personal ideological framework, there just is no other way. I have not had to endure decades of frustration at the hands of the public school system as a teacher to understand that the flaws therein are countless and highly obtrusive.
As I reminisce about my academic career, there are vast, yet seemingly natural, gaps wherein I wasted a great deal of time with regards to acting upon my naturally inquisitive nature. The effects of these moments, of course, I’ll never be able to fully reverse, although amelioration has begun. As I take a look at my current situation, I feel as though it is somewhat fatalistic that such a course should be offered at the zenith of my interest in intellectual and personal development. Dr. Miller’s course will provide for me a foundation upon which I can build my understanding and truly internalize the ideas offered me by the aforementioned minds, amongst countless others, including classmates. The short and long term effect of this internalization will be a preparatory period that will lead to an extraordinary life as a teacher, student, and human being.
Over the course of the next year, which I have dubbed “my self-directed graduate program,” I’ll be aiming to visit several schools nationwide. It is my goal that by getting familiar with the various pedagogical approaches that are being applied as well as with the people involved in proliferating democracy in schools, a full time opportunity will be inevitable. Of course, that traveling, while necessary, is not free. I am, at this point, working as much as possible, filling free time with reading. I’ve realized that while many things must change after graduation, the debt and the necessity of a frugal lifestyle is clearly not one of those things. As such, any and all assistance will be unbelievably appreciated.
Please let me know the status of scholarships and the enrollment into the class. It likely goes without saying, though I will, that enrollment is largely based on affordability.