I have been teaching science to young adults in my hometown for over 15 years, rambling along the way. Thanks for stopping by.
A few summers ago I watched a wasp attack a patch of lichen on our Adirondack chair.
Wasps are fascinatingly creepy as they stalk prey among the flowers, but this one got fooled. It stalked the lichen, then made its attack.
After a moment or two of trying to do something with the lichen, it flew a couple of feet away and then cleaned its legs, classic displacement behavior.
(It was embarrassed.)
The chair was made by a local man. We bought two, the price not cheap, but was more than fair, and he was surprised we opted not to oil them. We like to see things age as much as we do, and, in the local way of acceptance that is under-rated, he nodded and went on his way.
Because we chose not to oil our chairs, they have turned grey and are covered by lichen. They are now over a decade old, and will likely last another 5. With oil, they may have outlived us.
When we need new ones, we’ll seek the same man. We do not need chairs to outlive us. That’s what plastic is for.
Because we chose not to oil them a decade ago, I got to see a wasp explore the lichen, which might not seem like much, but I enjoyed seeing that a wasp could be as easily fooled as a human.
We are all easily fooled–life is foolish, in the best sense of the word.
“For nations, the lower long-term growth related to such losses might yield an average of 1.5 percent lower annual GDP for the remainder of the century. These economic losses would grow if schools are unable to re-start quickly.”
I am tired of the snake oil, the grifters, the liars, and the simply ignorant, all necessary for what we call the “global economy” to hum.
The economy, or the abstraction we call the economy, is doing immeasurable harm to countless beings, including humans. I do not care to prepare students for this. I am a public school teacher working in a public space to help students learn how to see, how to think.
The word “economy” comes from Greek roots that mean, literally, to manage one’s household. “Global economy” is an oxymoron.
Every year some of my students plant the seeds to grow plants that bear food, using little more than calories from the sun, a patch of earth along the south side of our high school, the breath of living organisms that live in and around our neighborhood, and rain from the sky.
This is about as simple and local as an economy can be, and even this is complex beyond comprehension. A teaspoon of decent soil holds a universe of mystery. We are, after all, a part of the mystery.
A seed will sprout for anyone, rain is still free, and our sun’s energy fuels us all–the Big Mac could not exist without all three. The fourth piece, carbon dioxide, the “waste” we breathe out, is as much a part of this as the rest–what we waste becomes what we build. Life is a cycle.
A true economy has little waste.
When somebody else plants the seeds for you, lifts the shovel for you, poisons the ground for you, picks the harvest for you, slaughters the harvest for you, trucks the harvest for you, and you’ve lost the connection to the seed, you’ve lost your connection to life and to the living.
A global economy, such as it is, depends on us wresting a child from her roots. A decent education, a decent democracy, a decent life depends on those very same roots.
And right now too many of us are rootless.
I know what folks will pay for this.
I also know what it’s worth.
Two very different things….
I have a chunk of ambergris, found it years ago, and while briefly tempted to sell it, am grateful now I kept it.
It was sitting right on the edge of the bay just north of Lincoln Avenue. It wasn’t much to look at, and I am not sure what possessed me to pick it up. Even then I almost tossed it back into the bay.
I mostly forget about it, but now and again I walk through a cloud of its molecules and get briefly taken to, well, not sure where, some vague place of immeasurable joy.
In the literal sense.
You cannot measure the pleasure, the joy, the presence of the herenow that lump of aged whale shit brings me. It apparently has the same effect on others, why else would anyone offer thousands of dollars for a slab of shite?
The big data junkies among us might argue that all things are measurable, and I supposed you could take pre- and post-ambergris exposure levels of my serum oxytocin and plot them over time, but that becomes impractical, and it’s not important anyway..
Turns out measuring some pretty important things in education are impractical, too. Brilliant writing. Unorthodox but rational thinking. Sense of public duty. Joy. Ability to observe subtle details. Flexibility when confronted with new ideas. Empathy.
When our ability to measure outcomes trumps our choices of which outcomes matter, we’ve stripped “public” from education.