The Joy of Life Standard

I went to teacher college in Colorado, about ten years ago, when public education in Colorado was really at a low point. "No Child Left Behind" had just passed- ugh! Everything was about, "standards based education". At a certain age, you will be able to do certain things. Blah blah blah. I had the Colorado standards for Language Arts memorized. It was enough to make you just die of boredom. It was enough to make the kids die of boredom. It was just awful, I must say.

Oh, you can say that there must be standards, and this is true. But the focus at the time was to have every word that came out of your mouth be rooted in standards. It frankly took all the joy out of teaching, if you took it too seriously- which I definitely did.

My friend Sabine is originally from Germany, and she went through teacher college with me. She's always been such a breath of fresh air. She is tall and blond and used to tuck in all her shirts and clip her cell phone on her waste band. Sabine rescues small birds and keeps them in her apartment with her. She speaks with the most charming accent. (She also collects idioms. It's the funniest thing. She throws random sayings into her speech like, "and the chickens really came home to roost...") She's one of those people who is always positive but still comes from left field half the time, so she's not annoying at all in her constant positiveness. So, in teacher college, when we were memorizing the standards and writing lesson plans to meet standards and everything was standards, standards, standards, she said, quite loudly and accented,

"What we need is a 'joy of life' standard! We can try to cram all this stuff into these kids' heads, and it won't do anything for them if they don't enjoy their lives in the first place!"

Well, yes, Sabine! You're absolutely right. A joy of life standard. A joy of learning standard. Something that considers that, hey, wait a minute! I think I heard somewhere that children are people with souls who spend most of their time in school... hm...


  1. Sabine sounds like a very wise woman. I try to be happy no matter what the circumstance. Usually though this results in things like singing songs about how much dirt is on my dog's paws, or saying hello to the local NPR host when I get in the car in the morning, silly things, but there is joy in silliness, right?
    Try poking fun rather than making fun, it's not mean spirited and you can get away with it more often :)

  2. I've actually told the neighbors about my horrible nickname for them. I don't know if that makes it better or worse! They're still nice to us. It just goes to show that baking cookies for people goes a long way, I think.

    You just have to find little things that bring you joy in life. Of course, there are many other things that make me happy, besides poking fun at people. I know I'm not ever truly mean-spirited, because I only really make fun of people I like. If I have perfected my impersonation of you, I probably love you. My husband has this horrific voice he mimics me with - and I think it's great. He makes me sound like a zombie grandma with a grudge against the world.