As I write this, I’m listening to Carbon Leaf’s newest release titled “Shadow Dragon Attacks Castle”.  This is a group that I’ve grown to absolutely enjoy over the last five years, even traveling to Oshkosh, WI to see them in concert because that was the closest they’d be to my little burg here in Iowa.  They are a Celtic rock band, involving many different traditional instruments in their arrangements, creating this interesting mix of the old and new.  Lyrics are playful and fun, some leaving me laughing, others leaving me misty eyed, but always making me think.


Their last full release was one that I enjoyed, yet, it was missing something.  It lead me to going through all their previous releases, listening, enjoying, yet looking for that thing that I couldn’t lay a finger on.  After going through all their cds, coming back to that group of songs, it just struck me how much different the sound was.  It wasn’t that mixture, it was very much a pop/mainstream kind of sound, and it was almost foreign to me.  Again, a good sound, but so much different.  This newest release feels right.  I’ve just heard the lyre, bag pipes, guitar, a fiddle of some sort, and accordion as I’ve been writing, and it just feels like home.  I love that sense of the music just washing over me, familiar like an old friend you’ve not seen in a while, but you pick up right where you left off.


Now, why in the world am I writing a music review here you might ask?  Well, I’m just feeling, as with this music, that I need to revisit my roots.  Why am I teacher? Why do I subject myself to the ridicule of those who aren’t teachers?  Why do I allow myself to get angry when I watch my governor and elected official reject everything that good education is?  Why not find another line of work?  Why not take that 40 hour a week job, where my nights are mine alone, where my weekends aren’t spent worrying or planning or checking papers?


Again, the music speaks.  The song is “Sad and Alone” and the lyrics say “sometimes you just need time to be sad and alone” which is where I was this morning.  I’d read a number of tweets how our state government, our elected officials, ones who should be looking at the good of the state, just voted a number of “reforms” which are hardly such.  If a stamp on a diploma is a reform, then something is wrong with our definition of reform!  If grading schools with an letter grade is reform, then we have no idea what reform truly means.  I’d gotten myself into quite a funk, but in that stage, I started thinking of those “why” questions.  It struck me, I have no control over Sheriff Branstand who chose to hold his state full of student hostage, but I have control in my room.  I have control to create the best environment that I possibly can IN SPITE of what many of those elected official do.


As I started looking through other tweets on the #IAEdFuture has tag, one educator asked the question, “Now what?”  The response was from Trace Pickering (@tracepick), a propent of transformation education change, and this is what pushed me up and out of that funk:

@bummatt@mcleod A grassroots ecosystem of transformational educators together simply doing what is necessary and showing the way.

Now, I’m not a wordsmith (if you’ve followed along you know that all too well) but this just made my head spin.  Imagine, educators leading that transformation of education in a way that our elected official wanted to follow along, not follow the money of those groups trying their hardest to warp our system.  Imagine a system where teachers, parents, students learned in a “least restrictive environment”, where students could follow their passions, teachers had that change to individualize that instruction, and that it all MATTERED in the end.  Can you imagine it?  I can.  That’s getting back to your roots, finding that place where you were at a while ago, but moved from because of age, environment, or both.  I’m feel as energize as I have in sometime about what I do.


Thank you Carbon Leaf for getting back to your roots.  You’ve really started me getting back to mine, a place I’ve drifted from, without even knowing I was gone.  As for you who are reading, maybe you are in this spot. If so, this makes me happy for you.  If not, find that thing, whether it be music or painting or running or whatever that makes you feel those roots, that passion that drives you.  I’m getting there again, and I feel so much better about life.