NAME: John J. Carosella
SCHOOL: Saint Joseph High School
CLASS: English II, English IV, Liturgy Choir, Freshman Liturgy Choir, Drama
What is green?
Anyone who has entered Room 204 at St. Joseph High School during
my tenure as English teacher may have seen the question "What is
green?" prominently displayed in some way or another along the
borders of the room. As decoration, it is decidedly unimaginative; and
yet, students frequently poke their heads into the room on the first day of
school to see whether or not "the question" is still there. It is, of
a relatively simple question; but the answers it has elicited over the
years have been as varied as the students who have sat with me in that
room. Some have been humorous; some, profound. Some have
proferred scientific explanations, while others have attempted
theological ones. All have had merit. All have reflected the innate wonder
that each human being possesses--the inborn sense of curiosity--the
completely natural desire to learn. This question--"What is
green?"--expresses my personal philosophy of education more
thoroughly than any other single aspect of my teaching life.
Green with envy
Over Math teachers who
Have all the answers
I long for greener pastures which
Seem greener on the other side of the fence
I look at the tender green shoots before me and wonder
What is green anyway
If not a sign of good things to come
Philosophies of education come and go. During my thirty six years of
teaching I have seen quite a few of them. The strict, eight-period day
came and went. Modular scheduling came and went. Modified eight
periods with electives, block scheduling, and trimesters have all left
their marks. I have seen discipline tightened, loosened, and sometimes
amost totally abandoned. Behavioral Objectives, Writing as Process,
New Math and sundry other attempts to increase the effectiveness of
schools have made their appearance on the stage of my teaching
career. Throughout all of those (and many more), however, one item
has remained constant and it is the item that forms the foundation of
what I consider to be my personal philosophy: the first and most
important goal of general education is the self-realization of the student;
the first and most important goal of Catholic education is achieving
self-realization in order to gain access to heaven.
Two roads diverged...
On the horns of a dilemma...
Between a rock and a hard place...
What's a teacher in a Catholic school to do?
What kind of a balancing act does it take
To help the "self" become real...
And then ask them to sacrifice it for the "other"?
Realize it and then deny it?
What is love anyway
If not choosing to relinquish the center, the self
If everything in the world were green...and the same shade of
green...would there be any need for the word green? The answer is
obviously "no". One does not need the word green until a tiny spot of a
different color appears within the green world. Then, and only then, is it
necessary for observers to "name the difference". It is, after all, "the
difference" that gives rise to words. If a table were the same as a chair,
there would be no need for the word table. It's "the difference" that
makes the difference! And there it is: the philosophy of general
education. In the general classroom, educators MAKE A WORLD OF
DIFFERENCE! In the Catholic classroom, educators try to MAKE A
DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD.
The first and foremost goal of general education is self-realization. Each
student who sits with me in Room 204 has a name and no two names
are alike. This indicates that each student is, in some way, different from
all of the others. Each is an individual. This situation leads to the
universal question that Literature deals with: Who am I? Of course, that
question leads to subsequent questions: Where do I come from; where
am I going; what am I doing here?, how do I fit in? Whereas these
questions are enthusiastically welcomed in the Catholic school
classroom, they are often skirted in public school classrooms. After all,
there is the possibility that we come from God and are going to God--a
possibility that, by law, may not be discussed in publicly-funded
institutions. Avoiding those questions is at cross purposes, therefore,
with the primary goal of general education, self realization.
There does seem to be, however, an aspect of each individual which
appears to be the same and not different. Some call it "life"; some, soul;
some, the animating principle; some, spirit. Whatever we choose to call
it, we call it the same thing for each individual. And so...whereas our
bodies have individual names to indicate the differences, our "souls" do
not. My soul is not called "George" while another's is call "Sally". No,
merely soul. And soul is soul is soul is soul.
Does that mean that there is something about me that is precisely the
same as that something in each other person? I wonder...and I
encourage my students to wonder along with me.