The woman cutting my hair yesterday asked me, "What do you do?"
"I teach middle-school students English," I said.
She gave me a familiar look in the mirror, blending her rueful smile with an eye roll. It said both, "God bless you" and "You're crazy."
She went on. "I remember my English classes. They were my A classes. Except for one. In high school, I chose a class on 15th century English. It sounded interesting. That teacher gave tests every Friday, and I just couldn't pass them. I showed up every day, though. I think the teacher ended up giving me a C because of my effort."
Minutes later, I left this exchange, the outside of my head newly shorn, the inside roiling. I'd guess a generation or two of living separates my students from the woman who cut my hair. Yet talk of grades -- rarely learning -- still tends to dominate the day where I work. What about the future I imagine where my students have very different recollections of school? That's going to require some serious counter-programming...