Introduction: The most innovative and propulsive celebration of teaching that I know is the brainchild of Craig Kridel, the brilliant Renaissance man and professor at the University of South Carolina, and it’s called CAROLINA SHOUT! Here’s a write up from Spring, 2006.
The drama of education is always a narrative of change. Act I is life as we find it—the given, the known or the received, the already settled and assumed, the status quo. But there’s always something more to do, something more to learn and to know, something more to experience and accomplish. Act II is the fireworks, the wild upheaval and the crazy dissonance, the vast experience of discovery and surprise, the intense energy of remodeling and refashioning. Act III is the achievement of an altered angle of regard, new ways of knowing and behaving, a different way of seeing and being. Transformation. Act III, of course, will one day be recast as a new Act I, and the never-ending journey toward the new will begin again. Teaching changes lives.
This sense of growth and change, learning and transformation, fireworks and upheaval, was on full display at the 2006 CAROLINA SHOUT! This was Act III, and it channeled all the love and hope, all the hugs and tears from Acts I and II, with some spice and flavor—like any home-cooked meal—all its own.
Kenny Carr and the Tigers, founding partners, co-authors and co-conspirators with Craig Kridel in this most unique and uplifting testimonial to teachers, have become pit orchestra and indispensable cultural marker for the SHOUT. When Kenny hit it, the line of horns came blasting to life, and everyone leapt up, our spirits rising in righteous appreciation. It was a joy to behold.
Ten-year-old Aileene Roberts shouted out with remarkable poise and grace for her teacher Ms. Tiffany Smith, whose tiny baby son Jeremiah stole the show as well as the hearts of those of us who took turns holding him during the proceedings. Traci Young Cooper, national Teacher of the Year in 2001, honored her Columbia High School French teacher, Madame Lilease Hall, this diminutive yet regal presence who “opened worlds to us,” and believed that her students could overcome any barriers to their dreams. And Craig Melvin, WIS news anchor, thanked Doug Brandon and Michael Fanning for never giving up on kids, and for creating idiosyncratic environments that were filled with interesting, provocative, and nourishing opportunities to learn, and kept him engaged in spite of his predilections to do otherwise.
A sense of opportunity and renewal—for individuals, for whole communities and societies—was at the heart of it all, the ineffable magic drawing our spirits back to the classroom and the school again and again. Like these students and their teachers, we felt ourselves becoming more powerfully and self-consciously alive, challenged toward further knowledge, enlightenment, and human community, toward liberation.
Here was a faith that every child and every student and every teacher as well comes as a whole and multidimensional being—a gooey biological wonder, pulsing with the breath and beat of life itself, evolved and evolving, shaped by genetics, twisted and gnarled by the unique experiences of living. Each has as well a complex set of circumstances that makes his or her life understandable and sensible, bearable or unbearable. Each is unique, each walks a singular path across the earth, each has a mother and a father, each with a distinct mark to be made, and each is somehow sacred. That insight, that understanding is something worth shouting about. SHOUT!