Not Being “All”

I have a heaviness about my work that should not be.  Instead of couching this fact in vague generalizations about my life, or anyone’s live in general, I need to reveal my own insecurity about my adequacy as a scholar whose feet are on the ground; my desire to be perfect– to not have to dance between other’s expectations and my own evolving abilities and my deep desire to tell the story– the story buried in the academic writing I am trying to do.

I just read an email stashed in an old journal from someone, a colleague at the time, encouraging me to apply for a particular job. I did not hesitate in my reply.  While deeply flattered that she “can see [me] fitting well into the position… you would be so good.” I knew that this job would not be so good for me.  I would have been frustrated because inherently my beliefs did not match with those whom I would work for and with, and I had no doubts.

Of course there is always the hidden notion that I could challenge those beliefs, but I had already been swimming upstream so to speak.  My neighborhood elementary school where I taught had been closed because it was a failure according to political and institutional accountability measures. The failure I saw was that people (generalized of course) did not value or work alongside that school community; it was easier to restructure as a magnet school that divided and diluted the neighborhood. Policies and procedures and philosophies of the new magnet school excluded rather than included our neighborhood– the children usually referred to in statements like “all children can learn.” However, from my perspective, these young people had much to say and do of value– just not in the ways that easily counted in the political construction of school learning.

The point of telling this story is that now I am meeting another kind of challenge, similar at the core, but I am not confident about what to do- to continue or let go; to say “no thank you” again or try again; to know if I am compromising what I believe or just learning through struggle how to say what needs to be considered in my world?

I’m looking for my own burning bush– I know the place I am standing is holy ground.

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