Thursday, May 8, 2014

Schoolmaster



Peonies are only pretty for a day or so.  This bloom in my garden looked perfect this morning.  



     In a blog post entitled “15 Steps to Cultivate Lifelong Learning,” Scott H. Young states, “Letting your intuition guide you can make self-education more enjoyable. Most of our lives have been broken down to completely logical decisions, that making choices on a whim has been stamped out.”  While I am always a bit frightened of following my instinct, I recently chose going with my emotions and pursuing my passions over other forms of educational advancement. 

As a teacher in a state now infamous for its educational bureaucracy and low teacher salaries (see this article, discussing a North Carolina teacher who qualifies for food stamps), I have often toyed with the idea of returning to school to complete an administrative license.   I’d have a bigger salary and might actually get to take a bite of food without an interruption or go to the bathroom on a flexible schedule.  

     But the thought of hours and hours reading and writing papers about the latest national or statewide educational initiatives (in other words, the current pedagogical crazes) or teacher evaluation systems leaves me a bit cold.  I used to get excited and idealistic about such things, but witnessing the reality of implementation over the years had led to deflated enthusiasm.  Educational reform programs sound interesting on paper but the product all too often manifests itself as burdensome and formulaic hoops for teachers to jump through.  One veteran teacher I know who, unlike me, doesn’t get ruffled by the latest educational mania that visits our school system every few years sums up this phenomenon this way:  “Don’t worry.  This train will pass.” 

So, for the time being, I have decided to bide my time and eschew enrolling in any courses with a practical bent (as least in the direction of my current area of employment) and signed up for the first part of The Knitting Guild Association (TKGA) Masters Hand Knitting Program.  I have a year to complete this section, and then there are two more parts to finish the certification process.  After downloading and printing the instruction manual for my course, I realize that my skipping certain details in my impatience to get things done will not be tolerated—and I’m glad of that fact.  In the six years that I’ve been knitting, I’ve been sloppy about blocking and haven’t bothered to read instructions for different types of yarns or specific techniques for certain types of stitch patterns.  Now, I’m required to write a paper about blocking, and my initial reading on this subject has made me realize that I should have taken the time to do this type of research years ago, so that my blocking would have been executed with the care I put into choosing yarns and patterns and the attention I devote to the actual knitting process.


The yarn for the Master program has to be light colored and worsted weight.
This Universal Deluxe should do well.  



I also have to knit sixteen swatches and one pair of mittens to meet course requirements.  I’ve worked the first swatch and have already learned a new skill—how to increase nearly invisibly in ribbing.  Since I’m lazy about writing tutorials (and don’t see the need to reinvent the wheel), here is a link to an excellent video tutorial I used to help me. 


My first swatch isn't blocked yet, but I put it in the notebook I have to turn in for safekeeping


As I devote my spare time to this new endeavor, I won’t completely abandon thoughts of advancing up the ladder in my current profession.  But, for now, the knitting class offers me a much needed escape from my day job, providing creative rejuvenation that will, I hope, sustain me as I tackle the latest educational craze that comes down the pike and ultimately lands in my classroom.  I also truly hope that the current  climate changes, and that in a year or so I might find myself motivated to get involved in education on an administrative level. 



I've also been busy working on my Lady Londonderry shawl, until I ran out of yarn.  Some is on the way, though, and I should finish soon.  


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