I’ve been reading Morrissey’s Autobiography, and I had to slow myself down to process how unbelievably fabulous this book is. If my experience with Ward Cunningham’s Smallest Federated Wiki has taught me anything, it’s that I was not walking my talk as educator. I taught people to slow down and think, yet I was becoming swallowed up whole with moving too quickly. So I’m stopping at every 50 pages to think and listen to music. How could I possibly love Morrissey more, you ask? Well, read this description of the first time he sees David Bowie:
I crawl from the cultureless world to Stretford Hardrock in September 1972, where David Bowie is showcasing the venue. At mid-day he emerges from a black Mercedes, every inch the eighth dimension, teetering on high heels, with all the wisdom of our ancestors. Smiling keenly, he accepts the note of a dull schoolboy whose overblown soul is more ablaze than the school blazer he wears, and thus I touch the hand of this explicably liberating reformer; he, a Wildean visionary about to re-mold England, and I, a spectacle of suffering in a blue school uniform (p. 66).
Sigh. To be able to write like that. Think like that. To say so much about culture and fashion and sexuality and adoration and politics with so few words. I might have to wear heels next week. Poor little Morrissey, surely you knew that your “spectacle of suffering” would become something almost spiritual to little ol’ me someday?
My recent fascination with Morrissey (did it really ever end?) was sparked when he rescued me from despair when Margaret Thatcher died. Ugh. Everyone was so celebratory about her, and it was this grotesque endless reel of her good works. Her leadership. Her legacy. Her feminism. I actually overheard a group of young girls talking about Thatcher as a model feminist. As I eavesdropped, I thought to myself: Okay, these are pit bulls with lipstick and the mama grizz of the future. These are girls who aren’t paying attention in history class. These are the students that make say to my history teacher friends, “Let me buy you another drink. Go on. I’m listening.” Thatcher as a feminist role model? And here’s how Morrissey saved me that week in 2013:
Thatcher is remembered as The Iron Lady only because she possessed completely negative traits such as persistent stubbornness and a determined refusal to listen to others.
Every move she made was charged by negativity; she destroyed the British manufacturing industry, she hated the miners, she hated the arts, she hated the Irish Freedom Fighters and allowed them to die, she hated the English poor and did nothing at all to help them, she hated Greenpeace and environmental protectionists, she was the only European political leader who opposed a ban on the ivory trade, she had no wit and no warmth and even her own cabinet booted her out. She gave the order to blow up The Belgrano even though it was outside of the Malvinas Exclusion Zone—and was sailing AWAY from the islands! When the young Argentinean boys aboard The Belgrano had suffered a most appalling and unjust death, Thatcher gave the thumbs-up sign for the British press.
Iron? No. Barbaric? Yes. She hated feminists even though it was largely due to the progression of the women’s movement that the British people allowed themselves to accept that a prime minister could actually be female. But because of Thatcher, there will never again be another woman in power in British politics, and rather than opening that particular door for other women, she closed it.
Thatcher will only be fondly remembered by sentimentalists who did not suffer under her leadership, but the majority of British working people have forgotten her already, and the people of Argentina will be celebrating her death. As a matter of recorded fact, Thatcher was a terror without an atom of humanity.
How fabulously beautifully correct and spot on. “Without an atom of humanity.” Hot damn, that’s brilliant. So, I’m slowing myself down to enjoy the memoir of a philosopher-musician whom I adore. It’s too wonderful to read quickly. And surely by now readers, you know I have a thing for the memoir.
I use one of my favorite Smith’s songs for my title of this post because that’s how I feel about some of the changes I’d like to see in education. The generous Jennifer Whetham at the SBCTC asked me and my brilliant colleague Peg to facilitate a retreat for faculty developers. Okay. I’m so there. You betcha. I have to pause right here and tell you that I did an Ignite presentation in front of a woman who can pull something like this off. Watch this and marvel, folks.
Brilliant, right? This is the woman is helping to lead the charge at the state level for professional development. Fist-bump with fireworks, Universe–this is makes my heart sing-a-ding-ding!
I’m not going to lie–the retreat was a lot of work to prepare for, to think about it, to stress about–but I love love love what we discussed. I will share more on my other blog what we produced, and I think I could have done a better job with the facilitation of the discussion, I didn’t say half of what I wanted with my Ignite, Jen is so fantastic… Remove the hair shirt, Indrunas; it’s over. Now I need to focus on what I said I would do. How soon. Is. Now.
How soon is now, indeed.
I feel very lucky to have listened to these caring educators talk about their needs, their wants, their desires for change. And even though I said I wouldn’t take on another thing until after June, here I am strategizing how I can create a pathway for us to share ideas. How to remove the duplication of our work. How to synthesize our concerns. How to send the message up the chain that This Is The Thing We All Want In The System.
But I Have To Start This: A Memoir of Losing Sleep
Oh, and we talked about adjuncts. You know, the 70% of our teachers that teach our students. You know, the person I used to be. You know, the person who still loves people who are adjuncts. You know, the topic that turns me into Negative Ed. Tech Nelly.
One of the people at the retreat is an adjunct. She came up to me during a break and thanked me for what I said. For caring about people like her (How can I not?). This has happened to me quite a bit in the past two years, and my heart turns into this giant mosaic of broken pieces every time somebody thanks me. This level of sincere gratitude is painfully familiar. I used to share it with people who made me feel cared about. Seen. Recognized. People who helped me. People who were my champions. She and I had a lovely chat, and we were all smiles. She was so happy, and I’m sure she is a good caring teacher. She didn’t stay for the whole retreat because she had a lab to run the next day–her students needed her. But she took the time to thank me. To look me in the eye. To care. To share. To say me too. I made my tear ducts turn to steel. Don’t cry, I told myself. Look her in the eye and smile.
I have so much on my plate right now that I have to set some priorities, and I will do the work–the extra work that is outside of my jobby job–because it’s needed. I can’t let somebody like her down. Jen can only do some much in her position. We have to help one another–we need subconsortiums within consortiums. Systemicity. Synthesis. Solutions.
I have to say how soon is now because this can’t wait until later–I’m trying to use “the wisdom of our ancestors.” The fact that we have passed the buck this long makes me the daughter and the heir of something that is “criminally vulgar.”