RE: My resignation
Firstly, I would like to apologise for stepping into your classroom with my own agenda – to see if I would like / could teach within the private school system. I left the state syllabus as I had taught it for so long, I desired something new. I wanted to teach in a new environment and make sure I was accurate in my decision of where to settle for my last set of pension earning decades. I made the decision and accepted the post because I believed that God had firmly positioned everything, literally everything, for me to move over and be of service in a new school, with a new group of learners.
Now I sit in major doubt as to how I can serve.
I am well aware of your ability to adapt and adjust and get on with living and doing your tasks. I am sure that you would understand my situation and can carry on fairly unscathed by my actions. After all, I have taught you – in my brief few months here – not to let people who do so little for you, control so many of your emotions (courtesy of Mr Will Smith). And that is where I now find myself – as someone who can do very little for you in your context.
You see, your educative environment is purely ‘mark’ directed. All of you place your worth and your level of esteem and ability in the hands of your teachers and strangers who apply a letter to your efforts. I hate that. I hate that your efforts are compared and categorised when you are SUCH unique individuals with so many strengths and abilities that cannot and will never be ‘markable’; yet you don’t see it that way. You haven’t been trained to see it that way. You have been trained to take that chronological number that has been assigned to someone’s categories of worth, and you make that assumptive value your personal value. I hate that. You are not the value of some other human’s assessment and judgment of you. Your value is that of gold and silver, refined in THE Refiner’s Fire. Sculpted by THE Potter’s Hands and sealed in The Kiln of The Most Awesome Creator. Your abilities are limitless. Your talents span the width of your imagination, but therein lies the rub: educators, often people who don’t even believe in themselves, people who have suffered under the same marking system that you are suffering, are in control. I hate that. I hate that people who are not called to teaching, are teaching. They are inflicting their insecurities on you, and contorting you to bend to their whims and their rules and comfort zones by squashing you into the boxes created by random numbers, otherwise known as: Percentages. And you, in your innocence and ignorance as children, accept it. You accept the forces of control and irrationality, and the confines and restrictions the syllabus and system impose on you and brand into you. I hate it.
I sit in this moral conundrum. Who am I to judge? Isn’t it only God who should judge? Who am I to say this is worth an “A” when the learner has been lazy and then just uses God’s Given Talent at the last minute on stage? Who am I to say that the learner who has worked so hard, given everything and stretched themselves into empathy, passion and courage at the highest level, is only worth a “C” because she doesn’t have the acting technique that I prefer? A for Ass, C for Courageous… A for Arrogant, C for Committed… A for Algebra, C for Calculus? The marks assigned by strangers in Drama, for an Exam are meaningless to me, for such reasons. Yet, for you, for my learners, they mean everything. I find it absurd, absolutely absurd.
I find myself now in turmoil over what you expect, what your requirements are for a teacher – someone who will get you an “A”, when some of you are just not in possession of the “X-Factor”, you are not categorically, by the piece of paper and the blocks I have to tick, an “A”… but your parents, your family, your friends, your teachers who have you as their ‘pet’, are telling you that you are an “A”. Why do they say that? Because they love you and that is what they see, that is what they know. Because they don’t have assigned tick boxes. Because they have no idea what vocal characterisation is, or what it entails. They don’t have a clue about projection and body dynamic and the technical “have to have’s” for an “A” in a Drama Exam. They are right, God has created you as a potential “A” candidate, but that “A” is not in Dramatic Arts in the private school system. In the state system – yes, there you can get an “A” because your interpretation, your ability to stand cold on a stage and use only yourself to engage with an audience is considered “A” material. It is not so in the private system… and this is where the private system clashes with ME.
It clashes with my belief in all of you and your incredibly hard work being worth that “A”. It clashes with my belief in the examiner being open to everything s/he sees on stage. It clashes with my belief that an actor with nothing on stage is more powerful than an actor who needs the prop of a prop… I can see your soul, your integrity, your truth in the character when it is only you up there, when I am not distracted by a tea-towel in your hand or an item that you throw across the stage. I am not cut off from you when you have a table in front of you. I am not subjected to being an observer of your conversation with a statue on stage. I engage with you, you move my soul, I see your soul has moved, when you interact with me, the soul in the audience who is listening to your message, hearing your words and forming a soulful bond with the character you have taken on in order to take me on a journey. I cannot watch you giving soul on stage and place it in boxes. I cannot tell you that your everything is worth so little, when it is not. I cannot train you in my way, I cannot ask you to act to my style of laying your soul open on stage, when your external examiners want props, want set, want pure type-cast, stereotypical, by-the-book, copy-and-paste, done the same over and over, performances. I am not made that way. I can’t expect every 17/18 year old to contort their body into the assumption that a 50 year old has no strength and must change their body to be ‘old’! I can’t force you to assume that you know exactly what a playwright ‘made’ a character to be, and that anyone on the planet could recreate a stereotype of something someone else thinks. You are not parrots or monkeys. You are not made to ‘fakely’ copy another director’s perceptions or preferences. You are you, with your own ideas, your own interpretations, your own directorial perceptions, I cannot and will not force you to lose integrity with yourself to copy and paste your work to be that of someone else.
I am not made to follow man and fit into the whims of mans’ insecurities. I walk in the knowing, the absolute conviction, that God has placed me where He has in order to touch souls. In order to awaken the inner light that is so dull inside you, so that you can believe in yourselves, so that you can know the truth of what eternal is. So that you can walk away having experienced something ‘out of this world’, something that has allowed you a moment of ‘touching God’; and then gone a step further by giving you a stage, a platform, an audience, to help them touch a moment with God, with themselves and their truths and insecurities, to open their hearts and know that ‘it is ok’, ‘you are not alone’…
The problem comes in – I cannot get you the marks set by this system, this syllabus, purely because I don’t believe in the system or the syllabus. I don’t know how to dance to the tune of materialism and worldly judgment. I only want to dance to the tune of truth, of praise and worship, of love, honesty, sincerity, authenticity and all that is so hard to achieve in our current society.
I sit, disturbed at a very deep level. I sit and type this letter to you in confusion with regards to the rigidity and conformism that I have found is dictated into ART, into an EXPRESSIVE and PERSONAL TO THE CREATOR subject. I am not made in a capacity that can serve you in this ‘private school’ context. Its non-transparency, for very real reasons I am sure, as I have had to personally deal with you annihilating me for ticking boxes that you disagreed with. I have had your parents annihilate me for not giving you the “A” they “know” you deserve. I have seen teachers with unhealthy “preferences” and completely subjective “reasoning” sway examiners with nonsense to get marks “improved”. I know firsthand why non-transparency would be chosen… even so, non-transparency with only ONE examiner is not right or healthy. It is secretive and beyond subjective. The State system, with its full transparency, will have a minimum of two external examiners and then open discussions with teachers, thus often having four examiners deciding on a mark. This is healthy, this is objective, this eliminates personal preference and personal subjectivity. One examiner, on a bad day, could skew an entire set of marks. One examiner who does not like a particular style, or has his/her own agenda can completely whitewash a year to poor marks because s/he ‘didn’t like it’, or has ‘seen it done better’, ‘or preferred the movie’ or ‘was raped herself and that is not what it looks or feels like’, or ‘I haven’t studied dance, or danced myself (I’m not that talented) but I wouldn’t say that was good’… Sub-conscious jealousies, personal agendas, self-righteousness, lack of understanding of a piece; all of those can factor into a single ‘examiner’ and how s/he allocates his/her personal choice of marks… I don’t believe it is right or fair to have one solo adjudicator who bears the burden of allocating marks without confirmation from another, and who gets sole control over setting a judgment over another human being’s creative work.
I find myself despondent, at my wits end trying to work through this, trying to fathom how I can work in such an unfair and distorted system. This is why I am resigning my dear children. I don’t want to be aligning you with my dreams and goals and lighting your souls, when your goals are the marks given by one person, in one moment, making one judgment call on you. I am not in the business of teaching for marks, of teaching to make some single other person able to put you in a box, ‘the best box’; because I don’t believe in ‘boxing’ anyone’s creative efforts…
I have also now encountered a horror of truth in the examination assessment that I have had to live through. In the feedback I asked for help, because I had been told that I had to tell you what to do. . . a.k.a. “Direct you.” Me? That if you aren’t working, if you aren’t getting the interpretation that the examiner wants from you (bearing in mind that I am not even told what that interpretation or expectation is with regards to what marks they assign – so I am expected to orientate myself around some invisible ‘standard’ / ‘expectation’); then it is my ‘fault’ – so … this means that your exam mark, your ticked box has nothing to do with your performance and everything to do with MY directing! Who is the most important part of any play? “The Director”. Who is the cog in any show? “The Director”. Who gets nailed with the criticism and torn to pieces if a play is ‘bad’ (as dictated by some person ticking their own random preference boxes)? “The Director”. It’s so completely twisted that I would be required to tell you how to act on stage and then MARK MYSELF! I am not into teaching practical Dramatic Arts to have myself come in and tell other people what to do. I did not go to University to become a Director; I studied my second qualification to TEACH. The goal of this teacher is to create INDEPENDENT, self-aware, capable to handle the real world learners, not DEPENDENT on me human beings… Yes, there are wiser people than ourselves out there, yes, we go to others for advice, yes, input from others is always advisable, but telling others what to do and how to do it? Surely not… What happens when my poor direction then reduces a learner to have lower marks because I didn’t notice something? Then, what about when you refuse to listen to my direction? When you do what you feel like and then I get slammed for it? Not fair, not ‘right’.
On top of all this, apparently, if learners don’t type up their programmes, then I must do it for them? What the? What on earth is that teaching any child? If you don’t do your work, it’s ok, someone else will do it for you and because that other person does it so well, you can get a great mark and call it “my mark”? How is that healthy? Helpful? Truthful? I am not employed to be a slave, or someone who is going to take on all responsibility for people who are apathetic and couldn’t care… I am not made to hide mistakes and flaws, I want them revealed, I want consequences for actions and behaviour to happen. I want learners to learn to be responsible for their own work, their own future, their own lives.
This in totality means, I do not fit the private school system. It means my values; my ethic and my purpose do not align with the methodology and learning system that you (and your parents) have chosen for your education. It means I am not fit to provide the service you are expecting or the mark alignment and mark affirmations that you crave and build your lives around. It means I am not fit to be your Dramatic Arts teacher.
You are amazing learners and the potential within you to become awesome adults is great. I truly wish and pray that you know it, see it, believe it and become proud of yourselves; and that you achieve in fabulous ways in all the years ahead… how you gauge and assess your level of achievement… well, I hope it is not by some tick box or the ratings of some “Body” that some humans have declared “important”. I hope that your assessment of yourselves lies purely in the depth of your Souls and how you engage with YOUR FATHER IN HEAVEN. In the darkest part of the night may you be able to say: “It is well”, “It is good”, “I am content, I am at peace, I have served a mighty purpose, and an amazing God in a loving, kind, true and eternally pleasing way today”. Amen.
Stay blessed and know you are Loved,