I can't add anything to the discussion; too many excellent commentaries have been made about David Bowie since his death a couple weeks ago. "Blackstar" and "Lazarus" are excellent. But the following audio documentary, which covers David Bowie's life between the 1950s-1970s, is really good. I hope they make a similar followup documentary to cover the subsequent decades.
I'm not a very confrontational person and I've kept pretty quiet about faith-stuff, all in all, for the last few years. My online presence is obviously critical of religion, and I've cultivated a digital sympathy for various atheist-folks and ideas, but I've always avoided saying anything about it myself. As a teacher, I don't want to cause an unneeded ruckus, and I really don't think "what I have to say" is any different or more articulate than anybody else out in cyberspace.
However, yesterday I broke my own general rule and posted a comparatively aggressive video to Twitter:
Because while I was shopping, I found this tract:
And, to make it a little personal, I'd received similar sentiments from a caring, Christian family member, just days before.
I'm not going to air dirty, personal laundry; nobody needs to be involved in my journey from faith to reason. But I might as well make a couple statements about myself here.
At this point in my life, I fit the characteristics of an atheist. I do not believe there is a "spirit world," a soul, an afterlife, or any sort of supernatural order to the world. The evidence simply does not affirm it. Every religion's argument makes all the other religions' counter-arguments moot. What's unfalsifiable can be ignored. I value reason and rationality in ethical and philosophical situations. Religion, whatever label or type, by definition skips a few steps of logic. I see no need to cater to choose "agnostic" or "humanist" as labels in this context; they each have their place. But when it comes to the supernatural world: I'm an atheist.
I could write a big blog entry about it, but I've written about it so recently that I don't feel like writing it all again. So, as I wrote in my letter to this concerned family member,
So there. It's public. I have a place to point people if they ask. Not that anybody has, really. Only one friend ever asked about what seemed to be happening to my faith over that time; to everybody else, well, my own "walk," as the faith-filled like to call it, is none of their business or concern.
P.S. I'm going to keep that tract nearby because I think it's hilarious and it deserves a YouTube video or something. Perhaps once this paper is written, I'll have time to create things for myself again. In the meantime, my most recent video on YouTube has become by far my most-viewed video. Neat.
When I saw the tweet above, I started thinking and tweeting aggressively; I'm going to try to transfer that energy here.
I read both articles at The Atlantic—"Why Introverted Teachers are Burning Out" (January 25 2016) and "When Schools Overlook Introverts" (September 28 2015)—and found myself both affirmed and discouraged: affirmed because it was nice to see that other people might also see the struggles introverts have with the highly social environments encouraged by 21st Century Eduucation, and discouraged because I was hoping these thoughts would continue to simmer below the surface of my daily consciousness.
I understand that personality labels are merely shorthand, but I share a lot of characteristics attributable to introverts. I like being on my own; although I can be social, I need time to recharge on my own; I get overwhelmed by large, continuous, unpredictable social situations. At a recent counselling appointment, when I told my counselor that I'm an introvert, she looked at me and said, "How can you be an introvert and keep yourself going in so many social situations?" I told her that I generally like people and that I generally see the good in people, that I can coast and improvise skilfully, and that I take care of myself through the day. As far as introverts go, I'm OK at bouncing between social situations and antisocial ones.
But introversion has led me to second-guess my decision to be a teacher. It's a lot of talking all day long, and the performance gets tiresome. There are plenty of days when I don't really have a chance to recharge and I fall further and further behind. By the time I get home, I'm shutting out my family and using avoidance and emotional withdrawal tactics with my own family. And that's not good.
In the meantime, education is heading down a path of individualization. As a participant in the education system with introverted characteristics, these are some of my concerns:
Every lunch break, I spend most of my time in my classroom. At the school where I teach, the school culture doesn't really expect students to skip out on their lunch to get work done, but I like to tell people that I stay in my classroom because I want to be available for students. However, after 15 minutes or so, if no students show up, I usually close my door and keep to myself. I have had many different extroverted staff members at multiple schools ask why they so rarely see me in the staff room; I tell them it's my recharging time.
But with all the demands of teaching in schools today, I can't help but feel like it's not enough, like a lonely lunch break is just not enough for me to make it through the day.
So when I see articles like these, I feel a little less alone. And perhaps I can squeeze a few more years out of this career despite my incessant introversion. But I have somewhat high hopes that the increased individualization and destruction of classroom-based models might make more room for introverts like myself. Perhaps, beneath the rubble of the archaic content-area-based system, I and fellow introverts will find a place where we can master our learning and recharge our batteries appropriately.
15 weeks ago, according to Instagram, I received this 235° clip-on lens in the mail. It has been a dear, convenient companion since then. Although I've posted a few photos to this blog where I've used the lens before, I'm really pleased with how some of these photos turned out. So here they are.
I've had to repair it a few times; once it slowly unscrewed itself, and recently I dropped it and the lenses inside got all misaligned. However, it's a sort-of soothing thing to repair, so I don't mind.
It really is an excellent little accessory and has created some memorable photos, especially in family situations (which I do not post online). It's fun to be able to capture a photo that gathers light fromt he entire room.