by Marion Marks
Thanking Brian O’Nuanain publicly is my first intent with this writing, but his message [You should listen to the radio story…] has such a deeper resonance for citizens that most listeners of Red River Radio probably missed. Brian’s journey is a beautiful and also tragic tale on the surface, but a secondary message of his love for education and a value for true educators requires a second telling.
Brian is an educator whose words demand a greater audience because the mission of true educators, blessed and cursed with a deep desire to impart knowledge and wisdom to a larger audience, is always a tragic tale today.
The love of teaching Brian bares as he reveals the emasculating experience educators face on a daily basis is tragic. His path, without regret, is the lofty path teachers face on a daily basis. Most are dedicated to their profession, yet find the brick wall all classroom teachers must adapt to, as they walk the fine line striving to be happy within the system boundaries.
I’ve never met Brian, but feel all citizens must empathize and appreciate the path of frustration within the educational system he encountered. He learned eventually that in “letting go” of his love in the classroom he personally became free. His students were deprived of his talents, yet he became free. His words are a beautiful, yet sad statement of the inability of the our state or nation to embrace the requirements to reward our children with gifted instructors.
If our teachers have no power in their own classes to branch out beyond the rote accepted teaching requirements, if the craft or profession becomes a formula of getting a score in the “teacher rating system,” students lose opportunities to learn more valuable lessons of life beyond subject matter. Educators are more than assembly-line workers, they are artists whose clay is the unique minds of their students. No Common Core Curriculum can be injected into students in the manner that great teachers can leave an impression a love for learning.
“Getting up and getting on” may be Brian’s method of accomplishing his life goals, but his former students probably know that future students are now deprived of his daily lessons. Brian’s words in this less than five-minute piece gives listeners a lesson without pulling too many strings. Listeners should gather that Brian knows he could never succeed in the classroom today because the system is stacked against teachers.
If one lesson comes from this broadcast it should be that citizens need to learn that there are great teachers in our classrooms and we need to make it easier for them to continue to share their love for education with our students. The current system must change for this to be possible.