Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Harder Route

The Harder Route
When we have labored, tried to do our best,
And yet we know that even more remains,
Then what is left for us to do but breathe
And take a moment for ourselves to rest…

We each have conscience.  Some may pay it heed
And others not.  And who are we to judge?
And yet, we know that when the stakes are those
Of life and death, for conscience, there is need.

So what of when it’s future lives at stake,
The lives of children, those we teach at school,
Or those we counsel, when they need support?
We then can choose to either toil – or fool.

The rich make rules we workers then obey,
And even when they test our hearts and sense,
So many choose to do as they are told,
That one, who doesn’t, falls, to strictures, prey.

So when we’re in a time and place where scams
Are so accepted that our honesty
And all our labor brings us punishment,
Then should we say, “It’s all a travesty?”

And so be like the rest, or still resolve
To do, what conscience clearly asks of us,
Whilst knowing, all our work will not suffice,
Nor all our wits, to tangled problems solve?

There’s surface and there’s depth in all we do.
By habit, we can choose between the twain.
The easy route is that of looking good,
The harder, that of toil – and danger too.

2014  January 16th, Thu., 8:26 pm
Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York 


proofoflife said...

Everything you say in your introduction is so very true! I was once a great or as they would say effective teacher now I hate my job and feel as if I don't have a clue!

Arjun Janah said...

I hear you, proofoflife.

The situation in the schools is, too often, an impossible one for anyone who is sincere.

I too have no clue as to how to truly do my job as I used to anymore. The only comfort, if one can call it that, is that we are not alone -- there are many others in the same situation.

But though misery loves company, that by itself cannot resolve the misery.

Many of us, including myself, work harder and harder, although the net results of all that effort are often disappointing. Individual efforts will not, by themselves, resolve this. It is only when the collective misery leads to collective action that we can begin to see some light.

Unfortunately, the union leadership, at almost every level, has not been leading in this for as long as I have been a teacher (26 years, including six on unpaid family leave during which I often subbed). Sadly, even now, I see no signs of it waking up.

Of course, the union leadership is to some extent reflective of the membership. Brainwashed apathy, dog-like obedience and collaboration with utter nonsense, even criminal nonsense, too often prevail.

Of course, we all need our paychecks. But it seems that we have ourselves put even that in jeopardy by our lack of collective voice and action, directing attention, with reasoned courage, to the true problems we face in the schools, which at root are both social and structural.

The former can only be resolved by enlisting parents and the wider community and society. The latter is our collective responsibility, neglected for decades while we have been busy, most of us and our bosses, being good employees in an increasingly absurd and evil workplace.

Education and students, for all the b-s, have actually been for long the lowest priority, not so much for teachers (who still have been doing their job as best we could) but for those above us, all the way to the Bloombergs. They can get away with the b-s because no one calls them out on it.