Category Archives: Concrete

Ode to Concrete

Note this post is for the National Day of Writing. It is being submitted to Bud Hunt’s gallery in the National Gallery of Writing.   It has nothing to do with education or technology or does it ….
my school sidewalk

Ode to Concrete

To most people concrete is grey, cold, sterile, and under their feet.
It is hard, rough, practical, taken for granted, and ugly.
To me concrete is the greatest material in the world.
It is the ultimate in tensions.
from Andrew Carr

Concrete is natural.

It is aggregate(sand and stone), cement, and water. It is earth. It was invented by the Romans and it is the only thing left from the ancient world not built of stone.

Concrete is technology.

It is man-made and full of chemicals: fly ash, water reducers, superplasticizers, accelerators, and retarders. There are complicated mix designs for innumerable applications. It is chemistry and science at its finest. There is even translucent concrete now.

Concrete is hard.

It is sidewalk that scratches knees.

Concrete is soft.

It is like pancake batter or chunky soup when mixed. It changes form. It is fluid and then very solid. It is a shape-shifter that adapts to any container. It can be formed, molded, carved, or engraved.

Concrete is strong.

It is walls that hold back earth, foundations that hold up massive skyscrapers, and bridges that hold thousands of cars.

Concrete is weak.

It shifts in cold climates and always cracks. It requires steel inside for tensile strength. When designed and placed improperly it crumbles under earthquakes and kills thousands.

Concrete is ugly.

It stands for industrialism and urban landscapes that are bleak with no life: the concrete jungle.

Concrete is beautiful.

It can be formed, molded, carved, engraved, ground, polished, and stained. It can be personalized with embedded objects. It is my art and I love it for its flaws and imperfections.

Concrete is a lot like me.

I’m still alive….

It’s been awhile since I wrote here. I am not intentionally leaving this space, but in summer I work concrete construction which keeps me very busy. I am so busy with work and trying to keep up with things around my home that I have little time to write and not even as much time to reflect as I would like. Here are some pics of some jobs we have done:

Insulated concrete forms (ICF’s) for walls for a Family Dollar Store
Large house with all exterior walls ICF’s
Pour day
Large cotttage that is lifted and we poured an ICF basement underneath
All of these jobs except the house in the second picture have been out of town. I have been working long days in the heat, staying in hotels, and missing my family. I mention all of this to remind us as educators why the public thinks our job is easy. For many blue-collar workers who work hard every day just to get by, having “three months off” is inconceivable. 
Now I realize that most of you are doing many school related things all summer such as working other jobs, planning, taking classes, and attending conferences. I would never say that teaching is anything but hard, stressful work (but also rewarding) and that we work many unpaid hours. But it is important to remember the perspective of others especially in down economic times that we are in and not take for granted or flaunt the “perks” of teaching.
So enjoy your summer, learn as much as you can, give back as much as you can, and re-charge your batteries for a great school year.