I’ve reached some milestones. May will mark two years I’ve been retired. Last weekend, my daughter and her family moved out after 7 years with us. And this week I decided to leave the listservs aka mailing lists aka interest groups I’m on, mainly flteach, moretprs, and latin best practices. I get stuff in my in-box from quite a few others but those 3 account for 90% of my mail.
A couple of recent threads reminded me of how often I’ve been through these wars and how much time they take; when you are passionate about something, you just can’t let it go when someone veers way off course. I am passionate about language and about teaching, but I did retire and I have redoubled my efforts in my own language study. I realized how much time I was spending on the listservs and decided to follow my original plan of quite a few years ago, to write on my blog instead of to the listservs.
The listservs provide an audience that so far has been lacking on my blog, though I am surprised from time to time to see comments from people previously unknown to me or just who had never mentioned going to my blog. We’ll see. Another impetus was a private message from Krashen telling me I should find a broader audience for, I assume, my writing on language teaching, or maybe he just saw my recipe for spaghetti sauce and was thinking of a cookbook.
For 20 years I battled on flteach. The final straw was the majority support for giving students zeros even after wiser heads pointed out the problems with that. I myself never knew the problems until my friend, Brian Barabe, jotted a couple of figures down for me. Boom! Obvious. That’s not what bothered me about the thread on flteach; it was the angry tone toward not just students who don’t do their work but toward everyone in the society who strike these teachers as irresponsible. It reminded me in an uncomfortable way of the attitudes toward food stamp and unemployment compensation recipient fomented by the GOP in the last decade: the takers vs the makers. The image of that school principal back East featured in a movie who stalked the school hallways wielding a baseball bat. As they say nowadays: REALLY?
Then an agent provocateur appeared out of the blue on moretprs. The responses to him were of a high caliber but quite a few members seemed to want to sidle up to him. My interpretation of that was the way he was peddling a way to get back to rule-getting and rule-using. I had just written a few weeks prior about the drift I’ve seen in posts from supposed tprs-ers that sounded much like legacy teaching (thanks again to Terry Waltz for that wonderful alternative to the misleading word “traditional” I plan to credit her every time I use it). The Latin Best Practices list has been quiet but I am going to leave them with a very long look at aspect and how Heri erat dies mercurii makes no sense. I will leave flteach with a discourse on how teachers cannot possibly explicate every grammar feature when they themselves are not conscious of those features, e.g. the zero plurals for game animals in English. I have no farewell address planned for moretprs.
The fact is, these listservs have not just provided me with a platform for my blathering, a soap-box for my rhetoric, but with a window into other teacher’s thinking, sometimes scary and often inspiring. I will miss the give-and-take, push-and-pull, ups-and-downs, jack-and-jills……….. got carried away with my hyphens there. I am going to have to seek other venues for discussing language, my blog first. I am shutting down my in-box service provider and going with gmail, which I hate and cannot use. Messages disappear into the aethere incognito. I admit, I have an agenda, a deep drive to explain to teachers especially the findings of linguistic science, of the psychological and social sciences, of historical studies, and so many things teachers seem not to know and fall back on the platitudes of their childhood. It is my belief that a big part of our problem in teaching difficult young people, which is most of them, is teachers were typically “good kids”, teacher pleasers, even teacher’s pets, and just do not understand knuckleheads like me.
The challenge is then to keep the blog going on a daily basis (I have piles of quotes and citations to put on the blog) and to justify leaving these listservs by going gung-ho on my reading and study programs. (see the category What Am I Reading?)