Lessons in the Meantime
An essay by D.F. Wharton
I like to free up my mind best I can. I look to the words that help me do that. I fill up and then I pour out. So if you are reading; I hope you can feel me.
I hear people talk about playing the game. They’re talking about doing what they have to do to win. In life, that is. But sometimes the people that say that don’t realize that the somebody else that defined the game they think they have to play didn’t—or doesn’t—know their ass from a hole in the ground.
I play the game, but I make the game as much my own as I can. Life is not a defined sport, meaning, the rules are not clearly defined. There are laws but those are the face of very deep and murky waters. So I get a feel of those waters and develop my game knowing that whatever I am hearing people tell me I can and can’t do is 99% bullshit. I learn and construct as I go, build up or remove, step forward or back. All progress in my realm.
In my view of self I am winning where I am at, already, and not where some other fool says I ought to go. You lost when you didn’t back me. You thought I was playing your game. I’m not. I’m playing mine. I control the scoreboard. Whatever score you’re talking about is yours, not mine.
I compose an idea and judge it. Maybe I approve, maybe I don’t. When I approve I walk into that idea and live in it and it becomes real. I have real creative powers. My education works for me, not I for it. Other people I see serve education as it is handed to them by another. They learn it and pass it on, never gaining, never eating, never learning to create, never learning to see, never making the game theirs.
I welcome distractions. For me they’re not roadblocks. They’re new directions. My plans go as far as the next move. Anything past that is a variable in the expression. Nobody breaks my philosophy because my philosophy is not mine. Yet I have consumed that philosophy, digested it, separated the chaff from the wheat, and it comes out of me in actions and words that become mine as I move and speak. Therefore I am no longer me but a force to be reckoned with. My level of play rises with my training.
Others will never see my work ethic, my training regimen. My will to submit to the discipline is what makes the difference. I step off into my setting and find what I need to see. What sets me apart from other educators is that there is little pedantic or compartmentalized in my pedagogy. Based on the accepted ways in education today, I am a heretic in the teaching profession.
But I am most certainly a conformist to the essence as I see and comprehend it. I do not look to differ from a way simply because it is accepted by a majority. If I differ and defect from an accepted way or methodology it happens naturally, quietly and in rhythm with the day, so much so that it takes a very attentive eye to notice that I’m off the reservation. But not many people can be off the reservation while still on it. If I have to explain it any further, you’re not ready.
I maneuver according to terrain and terrain is part of the setting. So I move in circles. The journey of the explorer—going out and returning. I don’t seek to teach mythology as it was the way I learned it, as it came to me, or was taught to me. Rather I seek to be myself in the presence of the students. Therefore, if that mythology has not built me up as a man, my teaching will be useless. For what I am teaching is still useless to me. I cannot start off any teaching by presenting past knowledge. I must first present myself, my actions, my words—a man that stands before another with something to say. I would be better to say nothing and maintain my peace than to speak of pedantic drops easily found on a google search.
I can’t be pedantic or compartmentalized.
I can’t be the bird that picks up a grain of knowledge or information from one place and drops it off in another, without having digested it for myself. If there is good food, good knowledge, good information—let me eat it and show its value by the strength I have gained from it. If I can’t do better than a digitalized search engine then let me do nothing at all. Knowledge that is good coming to us is not good coming from us unless it has fermented. We are like casks. For any knowledge coming from us to be good it must have been with us for years—aging, maturing.
What we have now in education are not so much teachers but waiters, serving food that someone else cooked, food they have never tasted, and have not liked what they have tasted, but served it anyway, because they believe that to be playing the game. And for the most part this is what is expected of teachers, from the top down.
The standardized testing systems are in place to keep out any creative mind that is not content to be a water carrier for the mysterious hand of the system, one not working hard to please the rank above them. If standardized testing is not the essence of pedantry, I don’t know what is. Have we standardized an arts and liberal education? Arts and liberal? Really? You standardize the procedure for changing the oil in a car. What you don’t do is create a standardized procedure that will push students away from school. What would be the point? Elitism? That’s probably it, but the joke is on those who think passing standardized tests makes them elite. The truly wealthy and privileged one percent don’t have to take those tests. That’s a wannabe elite who fights his way up the standardized testing ladder, just like the ones enforcing it—sprinting in a hamster wheel for no good reason, other than amusing the creators of the hamster wheel, of course.
I’ll move in my hamster wheel to an extent. I’m not trying to beg for money on the streets. I want to be able to support my family, play my role as a husband and a father. But I’ll be dammed if I move any faster than I have to, and best believe I’m gearing down every time I put my foot on the clutch.
The only promotion in life that I aspire to is death and for him I am content to wait my turn. Perfect peace in the present is my only aim and objective for my lessons in the meantime. That goes for all subjects.