Last summer, after 45 years in higher education, I retired. It has been a little more than nine months since I turned in my master key and walked out of my office for the last time. It was time to move on, and I’ve adjusted well to this new phase of my life. My wife also retired a year earlier after about 40 years as an elementary school teacher. We’ve enjoyed traveling, spending time with family and friends, and all the other things we always wanted to do but were too busy, too tired, or constrained by parental responsibilities as well as the pressures of our careers. For the first time in our lives we now appreciate a new degree of freedom, a refreshing experience for sure.
For me it has been a period of reflection, and that is why I chose to create this website called Reactions at DocStephens.org. Writing is clarifying. When I write, my rational inclinations usually overcome my emotions. Notice that I did not say always. This is an activity that I enjoy because it helps me think, but not because you, the readers of these posts, might appreciate what I say. Every time I push the publish button after finishing a piece, I debate whether to allow its automatic posting at Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+. My purpose is primarily self-clarification rather than persuasion. Admittedly, sometimes I intend to persuade those who read what I’ve written, while at the same time clarify my own thinking. It is also true that knowing that many others could and would read what I write helps me focus and fine tune my thinking and my writing.
It has always been my intention to use Reactions to reflect on my experiences as an educator and to share whatever wisdom I might have gained over the decades. In the coming months, I intend to offer a series of posts through which I hope to establish a framework for understanding our educational system and its key place in our society. I am humbled by this objective for I could not possibly do justice to the importance of education in preparing people to contribute as happy and productive members of society.
This will be done in small bites as I’m not sure what the entire meal will include. Here are the first four topics I’ve tentatively planned.
- Teaching Excellence
- A Climate for Teaching and Learning
- Governance of Education
- Standards and the Measurement of Academic Success
These titles may change and other topics might intervene, but this is where I intend to start. I will draw upon my experiences as well as those of my wife who was the best elementary school teacher I’ve ever known. I will also draw upon my personal observations of hundreds, perhaps thousands of other teachers and administrators I’ve known during my career, some were amazing, others were not.
These offerings will come as the spirit moves me. I’m on my own schedule now, so I can choose when to reflect and when to react.
Thank you for sharing this journey with me.
Mr. Stephens…thank you for your past contribution to inspiring others to discover more of their potential in life. Having “purpose” is a mysterious virtue, but with people like you, Norm Stephens, others can be guided by the wealth of information pioneered by your journey. This is just the beginning for you Mr. Stephens…Your seat is no longer in a confined office but now is a platform on the worlds stage.
Keith, Thank you for your kind words. I count you among the most talented people I’ve ever known. The time we spent together trying to figure out how to express a three-dimensional concave idea on a two-dimensional convex surface in four-dimensional space-time, will always be one of the greatest experiences of my life. Thanks entirely to your God-given artistic gifts and your exceptional creativity, it was an extraordinary pleasure to work with you. The outcome was pretty cool as well.
What a great way to share you insights. You have the t-shirt, “been there and done that”! I also have spent 40 plus years in the mix of education and although I have 2 more years in the DROP, I see the light at the end of the tunnel.
I look forward to reading you thoughts, and the projected topics are right on target. Public education is in crisis and we seem to be adrift in the latest theme and quest for effective and fair assessment of educators and student achievement.
All the best to you and your family,
I look forward to reading about your observations and suggestions for education. Thanks for all the support you gave me as a “fellow chemist”. Hope you enjoy retirement as Gerri and I have.