Saturday, May 28, 2011

Sally Albright and The Student Whisperer

The labels are still bothering me. I keep thinking about the Nora Ephron movie "When Harry Met Sally". (This is one of my favorite movies, although I have not let the kids watch it. Some adult themes.)

You know that scene when Sally calls Harry and she is just crying her eyes out? Her ex-boyfriend is marrying his new girlfriend, and the news devastates her.

" He just met her... She's supposed to be his Transitional Person, she's not supposed to be the One!" she sobs.

This is a moment of truth. She thought she had the 'Love-and-Marriage System' figured out. But her boyfriend, despite breaking the rules, finds love and marriage. Shock. She comes to the devastating (but ultimately liberating) realization that love and marriage cannot be confined to a system.

This truth is also communicated in the "old married couples" vignettes throughout the movie. I love that movie.

Education, like love and marriage, cannot be confined to a system.

And that is what bothers me about those labels. I don't know how 'systematic' The Student Whisperer is, and I like a lot of what I am reading, but I also get the sense that if I followed these teachings wholeheartedly, I would become the Sally Albright of education and eventually sob to the Warrior Poet, "She just crossed The Chasm... her Mentor's supposed to appear... she's not supposed to be facing the Ultimate Test yet!"

Which, of course, reveals that I do not understand these terms very well. But that is what I would do. Take a list of rules and run with it. Don't we want a magic pill, a formula we can plug in and out pops this amazing adult? But human beings are not machines. Contrariwise, as Tweedle Dee said. They stubbornly insist on being quirky. When I really think about it, I wouldn't change that. I love quirky people. But they refuse to fit neatly into systems, and that makes the job of educators more difficult. (Also more exhilarating.)

I have already played the role of Sally Albright more than once in my career as a mother, and I can finally recognize the looming temptation when I see it. Not going there.

In my next post, I will list all the things I like so far about this book. I do want to incorporate some of these ideas into my life as a mom and teacher. But here is a danger of method degenerating into system, and I want to be sure and think it through first.

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