We are in Galveston on vacation. Every other year, we spend a week or so with @mishelleyb's entire family at an exotic locale like Pigeon Forge, Tennessee or Cedar Creek Reservoir near Dallas, Texas. Seriously, I know those are not exotic locations. What they always turn out to be are fantastic times of bonding with my in-Laws, including both of my brother-in-laws and my sister-in-laws. I also get to spend some quality time with my own kids and some really great nieces. Suffice to say we always have a great time. This year we decided to go ahead and take a trip even though this is an off year (we were together last year) and so we ended up in Galveston, Texas at a great house that is literally on the beach. As I write this, I am sitting on the deck watching and listening to the waves break about 20 meters away. Its awesome!
So, about being married to a wonderful, smart woman (who also happens to have a fantastic family). @mishelleyb and I went into town for a drive this morning (we are staying about 35 km south of Galveston near Jamaica Beach) because we enjoy looking at old stuff. We drove into downtown and walked for a bit in the area known as the Strand. Its on the Bay side of Galveston and used to be a natural deep-water port. Merchants would literally offload goods from ships into the back of their establishments and sell them out of the front. That kind of blows my mind to think about, I mean those guys must have been making some serious bank! Sorry for the digression... while we were driving around on Seawall Avenue (aptly named) we noticed a large group of students, probably in either high school or early college. They were all listening to a guy give announcements for what we suspected was some kind of community project. The oil spill hasn't reached the Texas Coast, so we have no idea to what their service project would pertain.
Seeing these students turned our conversation to school and learning, which is typical and really is the point of this post. She had a brilliant idea for a cross-curricular project and now I really want to design the curriculum and present it to a local community college! Of course I know this is talk, but we often enjoy talking about things we will probably never do.
So here's the idea: Three teachers collaborate to create a humanities course called Cultural Studies: The Island. The English teacher (@mishelleyb) would teach island literature. This could be very broad if there wasn't enough specific Galvestonian lit (honestly, we haven't done any research so we were unsure of the amount available for study). A history teacher could cover everything from the history of the island itself to the historical ramifications of natural disasters such as the Hurricane of 1905 and Hurricane Ike (which still shows its ugly damage nearly 2 years later). That could go in so many different directions, it would probably have to be very focused to fit within the month-long time frame of our imaginary course. Of course, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the science aspect of anything (since I teach Physics - the Study of Everything). I would lead a study of weather, specifically coastal weather, more specifically Hurricane development and damage assessment. I would also like to include a study of waves and tides. These two subjects would include gravity and simple harmonic motion (at least the basics of each.) This class would be taught through the local community college (I'd be surprised if there's not already something like it) as a 4 hour humanities class. It would a student chosen capstone project that could be from any of the 3 disciplines. Hold class a few hours a day and then have the rest of the day to explore, shop, study, and enjoy living "the Island Life." What do you think?
So how does all of this relate to my joy in being married? This conversation is not something out of the ordinary. It is so fulfilling to be able to talk about "work" as something I enjoy. I get immense satisfaction having "work" in common with my wife and being able to spend this kind of quality time together (we have the entire summer), but not forget what we do the other 10 months of the year (if you think teachers only work 9 months a year, think again!) It is fantastic to be married to someone who makes me want to be a better person. To be married to someone who likes many of the same things I do. To be married to someone who plans trips that include things I like (that's another post).
When I think about the person I am now (educationally) compared to who I was 6 years ago, it's mind-boggling. Back then, I was a window tinter who worked my hardest in the summer and didn't have to use my brain much. When I went back to school, I was unsure of the path I would take. I certainly didn't think I would be going into my last year of a Master's Program and preparing to teach my first college course in the fall, with two more in the spring. They are adjunct classes, but still, it's college! I am now in a job that gives me a tremendous amount of satisfaction and has a huge amount of room for growth. While my wonderful wife wasn't necessarily the single impetus for me returning to school, she has certainly been a great partner in this journey of growth, so far. She is an inspiration as a teacher (she does relationships with students very well), is a great sounding board for decisions, and is a constant stream of knowledge when it comes to curriculum design for the Physics students at Putnam City High School. So, thanks Michelle!