On Twitter, I have come across links to several articles that advocate for education and making the institution a bigger priority worldwide. Chalapathy Neti of IBM, for example, recently published an insightful study about cognitive systems as a means for more personalized learning for students (view the study at http://www.research.ibm.com/cognitive-computing/machine-learning-applications/decision-support-education.shtml#fbid=Eo83FxEauZb). Other organizations such as the Malala Fund have endorsed this idea via social media, and their contributions to education and the world encourage me to make an impact as well. Positive change often begins small, as Nelson Mandela reminds us: “One of the most difficult things is not to change society, but to change yourself.” With 2013 coming to a close and the practice of writing New Year’s resolutions in full swing, I could not help but think about what I plan to do in 2014 to make education a bigger priority in my life.
I continually remind myself that, as an internship teacher, I will not be perfect. In fact, I will be far from it. However, this reality does not give me the excuse to settle for my current abilities. Just like my students, I must achieve what my abilities promote, and then take whatever that may be one step further. Since I have not been in the classroom with most of the students I will teach next semester, I do not know what their particular needs will be. What I do know is that I want to do everything in my power to meet those needs. I have several ideas that I hope to implement in efforts to be proactive rather than reactive. I especially want to make sure that the large Hispanic population in my school gets the representation they deserve in our classroom, so I have spent much of the holiday break searching for literature. I am excited to teach some Hispanic poetry in our first unit, and I am crossing my fingers that it goes well!
Some of my other thoughts include implementing the use of social media, music, film, and graphic novels into my classroom to make the curriculum relevant for all students. Linda Holmes for NPR recently published the BEST article entitled “What Really Makes Katniss Stand Out? Peeta, Her Movie Girlfriend” (http://www.npr.org/blogs/monkeysee/2013/11/25/247146164/what-really-makes-katniss-stand-out-peeta-her-movie-girlfriend). A 2:30a.m. spark helped me realize how useful this article would be when teaching hero archetypes in Beowulf, and how a critical look at The Hunger Games could give us the opportunity to discuss how media archetypes are slowly but surely changing. This is why I love education being such a moving target. As our world changes, we adapt our instruction to reach students from the most unlikely outlets. While the progression of our world often intimidates me, there are those beautiful moments (usually in the wee hours of the morning) that remind me that, while change can create apprehension and confusion, it also accompanies a world of opportunity for me to reach and help people through my calling in life.
Outside of the classroom, I will continue to advocate for public education in my local community and on a larger scale because access to quality education is a human right, not a luxury exclusively for the privileged.