Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Why Working in Education is Like "The Walking Dead"

I have decided to devote this post to the somewhat-reaching-but-very-pop-culturally-relevant topic of zombies. No, not the Miami Zombie (shudder), but The Walking Dead. If you remember, Fiance and I are kind of dorks (as if an entire post about my shoes, complete with Wizard of Oz and Star Wars references wasn't enough for you). One of our good friends from undergrad is a comic book king, and he sparked our interest in The Walking Dead as it made its move from graphic novel to TV. We were instantly hooked. I mean, c'mon, the opening scene of the series is just creepy perfection. 

Anyhoo, I recently got a copy of the first compendium of the graphic novel from our building mental health counselor, and on my evening bike ride tonight, I made a pretty out-there and wacky thought comparison about how The Walking Dead relates to working in education. Hear me out on this one.

Some of the cast of The Walking Dead. From left: Shane (w/ big gun), Glenn, Carl, Rick, Dale. 
There's a great ensemble of characters. Rick, the main character, is the every-man who tries to be the stand-up leader of the group, but has his flaws. He's stubborn and sticks to what he thinks is right, but it often isn't what works or would be best. He always wants to do what's right, and the other survivors look to him. He's a great allegory for a building principal--perhaps not always making the best decisions, but working with the staff to try and make things right. Carl is an idealistic kid trying to survive the zombie apocalypse, learning more and more every day about reality and survival. First year teacher, anyone?   Glenn is a master at navigating around the now decimated Atlanta, dodging zombies and other survivors personalities while keeping an enthusiasm for life and providing comic relief. He reminds me of a master veteran teacher at our building, who in the midst of a terrible day, will still crack a joke and smile. Shane is the antagonist for the first two seasons, and as Rick's former police partner, they butt heads in a rather violent way as Shane tries to derail a lot of the good that Rick tries to put up. There's always one in every building going against the grain. Dale is the moral compass of the group and doesn't hesitate to call people out on mistakes in judgement. He's a little spacey, but always watchful, kind, and friendly. Perhaps a guidance counselor or advocate for children, in a former life. Not pictured above is Daryl, a tough, loner guy who takes no crap, is an excellent survivalist, and is loyal to what he thinks is right (he is also a stellar marksman with a crossbow). He's the teacher in the corner classroom whose class is never rowdy. 

Zombies. Duh. Whether it's feeling like a zombie on Monday or mid-June or the students being especially monstrous, schools and The Walking Dead have zombies! To get metaphorical about zombies, the undead hordes could represent a whole mess of oppressive things that just keep looking for brains to eat: looming budget cuts; NCLB; standardized testing; no time and too much to do; bureaucracy, etc. There's always something creeping up around the corner behind you, waiting to jump up and bite you in the shoulder.

But that's why the great ensemble is... great! In the face of the zombie apocalypse, you've got a whole group of survivors to watch your back. Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses, and everyone plays of each other. Are there attitudes, big personalities, people that disagree, and shoot outs in the woods? Yes (except maybe that last part). But at the end of the day, it's a group of people working towards a common goal: surviving the zombie apocalypse.

Oh, and educating America's youth. Can't forget that part.

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