I owe the title to Chaverly Morgan, an outstanding teacher and beloved colleague. Chaverly teaches 5th graders at my school. I am the librarian. Before every weekly class visit, Chaverly reminds her kids of the succinct bit of wisdom passed along to her by her mother: fat meat is greasy. The kids know it means "if you act a fool you're gonna learn the hard way." I co-opted the phrase this summer when I was teaching history at a high school within my district. I witnessed kids scurrying late to class (and running the risk of "bilging out" of summer school with too many tardies), making nary an effort to do ANY assignments, and even trying to catch a smoke in a bathroom stall.
"FAT MEAT IS GREASY!" I told them. Learn it now or learn it the hard way. Saying "Fat Meat is Greasy" is, I suppose, an African-American idiom akin to Bob Dylan's "You Don't Need a Weatherman to Know Which Way the Wind Blows." There are some things in life one would THINK folks would have figured out by a certain age.
So as I write in the onset of my fourth decade on this planet and sixteenth year in education, I find myself wondering why things that seem to make sense are often scarcely found. As educators, we are bombarded with high stakes testing and cries that our educational system is failing us, but no one has the courage to hold parents accountable for not having their kids ready for school. As a country, we have seen this massive growth in federal entitlements, bureaucracy, and control. It is evidently unsustainable, but few are willing to confront reality and DO something substantial. Added to this is a government-media complex that seeks to support the insanity rather than confront it head-on. The past 50 years has witnessed the creation of an "entitlement class" that is losing the essential American cultural DNA of hard work, thrift, and power to seize the blessings of liberty while ensuring it for all. Too many folks have hands out instead of hands up. There are too many grasshoppers and too few ants. Something's gotta give and folks need to realize "fat meat is greasy."
A wise mentor told me years ago that "great teachers never stop teaching." Everything we do, even in the most mundane tasks, has the power to be a teachable moment and also a learning moment. My father, whom I consider the greatest teacher I have ever encountered, is a retired Episcopal priest and a master of the twelve minute sermon. He has the manner of the kind village priest, and would have easily passed as the kindly vicar in a pastoral English countryside if the slight drawl of his Ozarkian roots wasn't such a dead giveaway. Dad once wrote that God could have sent Jesus as the "Great Ann Landers of the Universe." Give out some good advice and see if it takes. He chose to send Jesus among us to teach us a thing or two about doing right by our neighbors and he continues to teach us two millenia later.
Master teachers get their students to think and engage in self-discovery. Perhaps that is why we are here.