Yesterday, I stumbled upon a blog written by a teacher in a state like Vermont or New Hampshire, talking about how one of her 7th-graders took the SAT test, and how the majority of the kids don't watch television, and how the teachers and students take an annual three-day trip to a camp in the woods where they all mentor and participate in character-building exercises. I can't remember the name of that blog. But it made me think. About public schools, not private.
I am very happy teaching in my small, low-income, rural district. I am right where I want to be. It's a good fit. You won't find our students taking the SATs in 7th grade, nor do they ride unicorns to school, unicorns which fart strawberry-scented rainbows, and leap over cotton-candy clouds. Our kids take the driver's license test. Sometimes in 7th grade. A student rode her horse to school one day. I don't know what its farts smelled like, but I'm betting it was akin to those of Rusty, the carriage-drawing horse that Kramer fed Beefarino. If our students don't watch television, it's because they can't afford a television. Or they have a television, but no money for cable, so they watch yard-sale DVDs. If we took a camping trip, the time would be spent gathering firewood and setting up army-surplus tents. That's just the girls. The boys would be rustling up some squirrel, rabbit, or deer for supper.
We don't have a library with leather wingback chairs, mahogany wainscoting, Georgian bookcases, or a roaring fireplace. We do, however, have a library. The chairs are hard, blue plastic, and most of them set level unless you get the one with the bent left legs. Our walls are white-painted concrete block, and the shelving is black metal. There's no fireplace, but if you get there first, you can sit under the heating vent that keeps you a toasty 68 degrees if the wind is blowing from the right direction. And guess what. Our library has books. Books that kids want to read so badly that there's a waiting list. And when one of those books is returned, the librarian looks up the top-of-the list student's schedule, and delivers it to the classroom.
We're doing okay.