Smokey Mountain Ferns

In August of 1994, I walked into an 11th grade English classroom as a first year teacher – I was 41 years old. I entered the profession through an alternative licensure program, so it had been over 20 years since I had been in a high school classroom. I quickly learned, by observing my surroundings, that everything was pretty much the same at school in 1994 as it had been in 1970. Desks were in rows, teachers were teaching, and students were sitting compliantly engaged at varying degrees. It seemed a greater percentage of students were “street-wise”, but generally kids were still interested in boyfriends and girlfriends, popularity and extra-curricular activities. And, they still struggled with peer pressure and parental relationships.
Perhaps it was my own educational background that caused me to start peeling away the layers of understanding the acts of teaching and learning, or perhaps it was my personality type; but from the first year I taught till today, I have been searching for answers to the questions, “What is it about school that ensures that some students memorize and some understand, and some do neither?” Or, “What is it about school that ensures that some students seem to care and some do not? Or, “What is it about school that ensures some students try to reach their potential and some do not?”