Not my circus, not my monkeys

There’s a Polish proverb that translates to, “Not my circus, not my monkeys”, in other words, it’s not my problem. Why do I start my recap post with this saying? Well, for one, I’ve come to find it a comforting reminder as I sit working reference, and am confronted with a situation that is beyond my capabilities, or even outside of my legal jurisdiction, that people still want me to fix their problems. I often walk away, feeling a mixed set of emotions. Upset that the person couldn’t get exactly what they needed, but also upset that they would put their problems onto me, as if I am the one who ultimately must fix it. I breathe, and think, “Not my circus, not my monkeys”, breathe again, calmed. Our line of work can be emotionally taxing some days. At least for me.

This mentality was one that reminded me of our parents’ vs. schools’ responsibility in a child’s upbringing. Where is the line, and when do schools say, “Hey, this is not our problem.” I was actually surprised at first to see how our conversation quickly turned into a discussion on American parenting. When it comes to intellectual freedom, and teaching online skills, I see myself as responsible for helping. As a teacher-librarian, I have had a large amount of learning about the Internet, privacy, intellectual freedom issues, etc. More so then your average person. So, I think it makes sense that as part of my job, it would be to help students make sense of their online presence. But where is the line to that? When there are issues of cyberbullying occurring outside of school, on iphones given to them by their parents, is that a school problem that should involve a teacher? Or is that a parent problem?

What I think is even more interesting about these questions, is when we begin to talk about school reform. There is a lot of talk about how the community needs to be included, and teachers and administrators should visit families outside of school. It seems this way would not only be a paradigm shift in how we do school, but maybe even how people do parenting. Is this a good thing? I’m still working through how I feel about all of this, so I apologize if my thoughts are little less eloquently put.

Outside of that, I enjoyed being able to brainstorm what a class on online life management would look like! I really hope one day I can not only propose such a class, but also carryout. I also like our conversations about new tech. What’s the point of buying something if it does not solve a problem (and maybe even creates some new issues) or enhance learning? Wow! What a great question to ask. I also liked this idea of getting good at a couple different tools, rather than always trying to teach a new tool. It makes sense. How can we expect our students to keep up and create meaningful work, when we’re always changing their tools on them? What if we let students choose their tools to become experts in? What would that look like?


3 thoughts on “Not my circus, not my monkeys

  1. nicolesa602 says:

    The issue of defining what your role as an educator should be in shaping a child’s ethical framework and behavior beyond the classroom/library is definitely a difficult one. It’s an area where tensions run high–never tell a parent how to parent (yelling always follows)–and overstepping hazy and ever-changing boundaries between school-developing-students and parents-developing-children, is a constant concern. It seems like a topic that has to be dealt with as a school and community, not just by individual educators trying to work it through on their own. So, yay that I won’t have to deal with it. I think I’ll just get a couple of cats and work with adults.

  2. leafinglight says:

    What a thoughtful post! “Not my circus, not my monkeys.” I’m going to use that one.

    I also found your comments about school reform to be interesting–similar to some we had last semester. You’re right that everyone has a role in the education of children: parents, community members, teachers. Does that mean that everyone has a say in how it should be done? Most groups I’ve heard think that there needs to be a paradigm shift in how education is done. I think the catch is that those groups don’t necessarily agree on what that shift should look like.

  3. molliehall says:

    I’m thinking about your last question, about students picking the tech tools they learn with. I don’t know how many teachers would be into this idea since they wouldn’t necessarily know how much work went into an assignment – kind of like when the design elements of that one assignment were stripped away and there were only a couple of sentences there. However, I think that student choice is crucial into getting them engaged, so there has to be a way to incorporate their tools. I’m still not totally sure what this would look like in a classroom, but I know that students who have access to a makerspace could learn whatever tech tools they want, as long as that tool is on hand.

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