I then present career philosophies
- Vocational: based upon one's identity, beliefs and values. It's the notion that who you are guides what you do (a sense of calling to it)
- Hedonist: find a job that is enjoyable, fun or pleasurable.
- Economic: a job is based upon money. The higher the pay, the better the job.
- Recognition: the best job is one where a person will receive honor, recognition, fame or accolades.
- Humanitarian: here the idea is to make a difference in the lives of others
"If there are all these reasons for having a career and our school wants to get us job-ready in the future, why are we only following the economic philosophy? Why don't we make a difference as a school? Why don't we talk about identity and values and beliefs?"
"Some people don't think that's important. They see it as fluff. Shouldn't we pursue the core knowledge?"
He responds, "It seems like answering the question of why we work a job would be at the core of all of our knowledge."
As the students work on an individual assignment describing their own career philosophy, I hear shouting from Mr. Brown's classroom.
"Faster, I say! It's not about quality! It's numbers! It's data! We need to win this race! It's a race to the top, I tell you! And our company will not have any losers being left behind!"
"But Mr. Brown, the work is looking sloppy and everything we do looks identical!"
"Welcome to the edu-factory," he responds.
Students are in an assembly line filling out one line a piece on each of their worksheets. On the sideline are students who want a piece of the grade as well. "You sir, do you want to work in this edu-factory? I'll pay you a C for the work. Right now you're failing. Take a C!"
The child simply nods.
"Alright, everybody, your grade is now a C! We only have so many points to spread around. But we can now hire two new workers."
A child volunteers to work for a D and Mr. Brown fires another worker who refuses a C. Finally, two more workers begin to whisper to one another. "We quit. We'll fail this unit if we need to."
This leads to a chain reaction as the students begin to go on strike. As my students discuss career philosophies, his students talk about unions and free markets, wages and fairness and eventually meander into why one would work a job.
Neither of us taught the same lesson. I might steal his idea next year and I know he plans to use my career philosophies tomorrow. We share. That's the idea of "common" knowledge and "common" standards. It's horizontal. Our paper and pencil "integration" is natural and fluid and based upon our own expertise.
Give us a program and we'll be programmed. Give us worksheets and our work will be full of sheet. The results will be uniform, but we'll miss the chance to be innovative. Give us a chance to develop our own lessons and give us the freedom to share what has worked and we'll grow together. The best professional development happens over a pint, not in a crowded library.