A whole Spectrum of Problems:


The disadvantage of being a teacher is having the summer off. In the summer is that you have time to paint the bedroom. My wife thinks this is what summer is for, she is convinced that educators are given time off in the summer to catch up on all the things that they were not able to accomplish during the school year, given the 12 hour days we so often put in.

For better and worse, I have accepted this as part of my reality, and thus found myself staring at a sea of paint chips with colors I could not have known existed. There is an entire spectrum of both white and black. Not just between black and white mind you, but OF both black and white. Now I am not a scientist, but I do live with a couple, and I know, or at least have been told, that black is not even a color but rather, I am told, the lack of color. So apparently there is a whole spectrum of colors that are not on the color spectrum.

My daughter was next to me as I stared down the visual presentation of options. “what up”? She asked, not looking up from her phone. I explained the spectra of spectrums issues as best I could.

“Okay first, we only need one color and we know what it is, so just get it; and second, Dad, this is the 21st century, literally everything is part of a spectrum.” I was told.

That was July. The bedroom is now done, the walls look great, and my daughter is back on her phone; but I am still pondering all the spectra in my world. My daughter was right. When I was a kid, not really all that long ago. Things were clear and much easier to understand, the only Spectrum I knew was the rainbow color one. Gender was mysterious, and mystifying, but it was always an either or prospect. In school you either were cool or you were not.

The world is much more complex now, largely because everything is part of a spectrum: Gender, Intelligence, sexuality, race, wealth, creativity… All these scales and expanded definitions make life much more complex, and complex is high on the difficulty matrix. As a teacher, I like having that kind of metric. It serves as a reminder that every assessment is and must be a comparison to something else with other pieces in between. Not a scale on which there are simply two sides.

Pass/ fail

Black/ white

Good / bad

Smart/ dumb

These new spectrums reflect a more complete picture, I don’t always like what I see, but the kid in front of my desk needs help and the more I understand the best I can do my job. There is no longer one right way or one best way to teach. Now you have to teach it multiple ways, because now, we all learn in different ways. There is no longer, one curriculum that will serve all my students and keep us all effectively learning page 394 on the same day. Maybe there never was. Now, teachers will have to teach each student in ways that they know will work best for where that kid is on that spectrum at that time. We will need to know the standards, the students and how to find options that bring those two elements together. That is ridiculously difficult, Crazy hard and complex. I love this job.


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