Educational Headaches

December 27, 2011 — 1 Comment

Doing a bit of research about Chinese poetry, I came across a fascinating sentiment that has been reverberated across the centuries since it was first penned by Du Fu in the eighth century.

Du Fu was a prominent poet and a dedicated civil servant who believed in making his kingdom a better place for all. He lived during a tumultuous era and survived several major revolts. (Such turmoil is often said to provide fertile fodder for the poet’s heart.)

At one point he earned the displeasure of the emperor and was demoted to a position as Commissioner of Education. He served diligently but found the duties onerous. Foremost among his complaints was the timeless curse of administrators and teachers:

I am about to scream madly in the office.

Especially when they bring more papers to pile higher on my desk.

It’s true that most of us get buried under greater mounds of paperwork as we advance in our careers . . . but it is a particular shame when teachers (people who are there in the trenches because they love kids) suffocate under stifling piles of trivial record-keeping debris.

If you’re interested in reading a couple of verses composed by Du Fu, you can find them on the internet. Or, you could wait a couple weeks for the release of Curtana 2.2 (the free journal I edit), and read them there.

The Inklings (especially C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien) are exemplars of the tradition of dedicated patriots and poets who devoted their energies to improving our world. And, I doubt you’d need to search very hard to find in their writings an echo of this disaffection for the piles of meaningless work each of them had to wade through during their prolific lives.

One response to Educational Headaches


    Piles of mindless purpose-less papers…and they wonder why people leave teaching. Interesting it’s been this way forever.

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