Monday, November 16, 2009

Exhausting Hope

Finishing up the last week of the first quarter in a high school is close to the 9th circle. Each one starts to throw the others under the bus. “But he didn’t send me the links on time.” “But she didn’t text me with the time we ere going to meet.” “Can’t you grade us separately?” “When can I meet with you for my thesis?” “When was that due?” “Oh geesh, Brock, why do you teachers do this to uuuuuuuuuussssssssssssss???”
I know you now are desperate to enter into my room every morning where a sea of Abercrombie and Uggs swarm my door and I must swat them away just to put down my backpack. You want to come and calm fears, shush tears, and remind them that, in the end, they will A. live, B. learn, and C. thrive. Then I have to remind them that they, A. are more than a number, B. this is merely quarter, and the real grade isn’t until the end of the semester, and C. can’t argue about points, so shush it.
You want to walk into my room.
Really, you do.

In that room, where the anxiety level is through the roof, where they question the relevancy of English, literature, and me, they also are learning. OOOooooooooo, are they brilliant! They are learning that the “right” answer is one supported by text. They are learning that an easy “A” is less than a hard earned “B”. They are learning that literature is life. We are majoring in life within my room and for that, I am…

But in a good way
In a way that I can’t explain other through anecdote

I came in to meet with one of my students for her thesis and the entire back board was covered with purple and brown expo brain matter. She worked madly over the philosophical debate about why we must proceed on the archetypal journey. She pulled examples from three or four different texts. She worked with concepts like fate, free will, task, stereotype, mentor, deceit, and love. She grappled with motivation and the lack of. When I walked into that room after grabbing a quick bite of a sandwich I sat on the back table and allowed her to proceed through the trails of now red ink connecting ideas, erasing those that don’t fit. I watched and interjected here and there in order to streamline her thesis. Later that evening, during online conference hours, she typed. “Brock, I am so excited about my paper. In truth, I can say I have never said those words about any paper, especially at the end of the quarter  haha.”

I am telling you, you want to be in my room. You want to be involved with these amazing minds. You want to see what they do when handed 12 titles and told to go find something interesting to write about. You want to be here, in the sea of Abercrombie and Uggs. You want to be here and see what our future is doing in the present.

Here is the hope those looking over they shoulders are looking for. It isn’t a plan, it isn’t a policy, and it isn’t a system or a standardized test. It lies in the hearts of our children. If we nurture those beating, pulsing bodies, our hope, daily, is restored.

So I invest. I smile. I say, “I know you are frustrated, but I believe in you. I know you can do this. Just try. Just pick up the idea and try.” Most importantly, I say, “What do you think?”

And make them answer.

1 comment:

Heather said...

"What do you think?" is such a useful question to ask kids isn't it?