The Very Spring and Root

An engineer's adventures in education (and other musings).

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kennedy

Looking Forward to Spring

So, long time no freaking update. November and December were absolutely crazy, and it’s been wonderful to be back home in California for the holidays to rest up and recharge before the plunge back into the spring. Looking back on the fall months, I can’t believe how much has happened. In some things, my core beliefs, particularly related to what I am doing, have been strengthened. In others, it seems that my perspective on things has changed and grown.

Foremost things on my mind:

1. Passing my Gateway.

I didn’t quite make full proficiency on my Fall Teaching Gateway, which is a difficult thing to deal with. The up side is, I got concrete, specific, and actionable feedback on aspects of where I was that were getting in the way of becoming the best educator I can be. It’s amazing what you don’t even notice about yourself except with careful self-analysis and feedback from others. I’ve been getting a lot of support in working on these things, and I already feel as if I have improved.  So, this is a good process, despite the increased stress level.

2. Philosophy of Education

The final paper prompt for our Language, Power, and Democracy class reads as follows:

In our positional authority, teachers consciously (or not) make a myriad of curricular, procedural and moral decisions that have significant implications for our students’ learning. These decisions are deeply informed by our educational philosophy, which is strongly shaped by our (fluid and often shifting) social location, life experiences and our political analysis of these.

For this assignment I invite you to clearly state your philosophy of education and analyze, through a
personal, intellectual and political lens, how your social location influences your beliefs around schooling and your role as a professional teacher in addressing systemic inequity.

This written work provides the space for you to continue articulating your philosophy of education
particularly as it pertains to questions of inquiry, equity, language, power, and democracy. You will also conduct an intellectual, political and personal analysis of your philosophy of education. Grounded in a clear reading of the historical forces, structural context and institutional practices that have contributed to the current status of public schooling, you will continue unpacking your personal histories to identify your own social location, how it fits in the larger context, and how your social location shapes your philosophy of education.

Finally, the assignment aspires to help you draw explicit connections between a teacher’s philosophy of education and social location on the one hand, and classroom practice, student learning, and knowledge construction on the other to ultimately shed light on the possibilities of creating, sustaining and nurturing democratic classrooms that contribute to delivering the promise of quality education for all.

Yeah, no pressure right? It sounds imposing, but actually, doing the readings and preparatory writings for this assignment has been one of the best experiences in BTR for me (at least on the academic end of things). I’ve been exposed to very powerful writings by intellectuals such as Paulo Freire, Henry Giroux, Jonathan Kozol, and Sonia Nieto which have built on my per-existing core beliefs while profoundly changing how I view those beliefs in the context of my life. I am now in the process of connecting these new thinkers with the ideas already in my personal canon — from my own thinking and also informed by my exposure to John Dewey, the Dalai Lama, Carl Sagan, Immanuel Kant, John F. Kennedy, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Nelson Mandela, and my own grandfather to name a few.

Condensing all of that into something concise and coherent to say about what I believe about education, particularly science education, is a daunting challenge — but one in which I am gladly immersing myself right now.

Maybe I’ll post some draft excerpts from that paper as I start getting my thoughts more solidified.



Happy birthday to a war hero, former President, and among the last of a dying breed of gunslingers.

Many are fond of quoting him, but take a quick minute to reflect on this day: What would it mean if you took these words personally? How would you change the way you live your life, if at all? What if these exhortations were delivered personally, to you directly and no one else? No answer required, just the thought.

Notable quotes:

Now the trumpet summons us again -not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need; not as a call to battle, though embattled we are-but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, “rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation”-a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself. […] The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it-and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.

A nation which has forgotten the quality of courage which in the past has been brought to public life is not as likely to insist upon or regard that quality in its chosen leaders today – and in fact we have forgotten.

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.

For time and the world do not stand still. Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or the present are certain to miss the future.

I look forward to a great future for America – a future in which our country will match its military strength with our moral restraint, its wealth with our wisdom, its power with our purpose.

I’m an idealist without illusions.

Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.

Mankind must put an end to war before war puts an end to mankind.

Modern cynics and skeptics… see no harm in paying those to whom they entrust the minds of their children a smaller wage than is paid to those to whom they entrust the care of their plumbing.

No one has been barred on account of his race from fighting or dying for America, there are no white or colored signs on the foxholes or graveyards of battle.

Too often we… enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.

If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.

With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.

Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men.

— John Fitzgerald Kennedy.




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