Teaching Other People’s Children

No Telling

Ive never been so ready for a Thanksgiving break in all my life, and I’ll bet I’m not alone. I love my students – all of them – it’s just important to have a little time apart. Right here at the end of the semester, Thanksgiving break is the chance to inhale before the final jumping in of final exams. It’s timely and necessary.

I’m fully aware that I’ve become a spoiled university instructor. Unlike most of the folks in the hall, I have memories of public school teaching. Years of thirty-minute lunches snarfed while standing duty in 100 degrees or in freezing temperatures. Years of forgotten homework and whining teenagers. Years of preaching poetry from a rickety pulpit. I loved every single, gut-wrenching minute of it.

It’s a whole different country teaching those who choose (and pay) to learn. John Rohweder, a wise man I miss much and often, used to remind me that we university folk have the best game in town: we teach the willing on a flexible schedule, and we even get paid to do it. John marveled at the gift of teaching every single day and never failed to make me feel like the luckiest woman alive.

We who teach participate in the miracle of learning, and we learn. We have it lucky and easy. For those who teach in the public schools, that’s not always true.

I know this is a time of educational confusion. Standardized testing and helicopter parents and school violence and the ugliness of the whole sordid world reflected on our young – it makes us cynical. Those who choose to stand at the front of the classroom take a vow of responsibility for other peoples children. There’s nothing weightier than that.

So while we’re being appreciative ’round the turkey table this year, say a little attagirl or attaboy to those folks who’ve dedicated their lives to nurturing other people’s children. They may be teaching your children. Maybe some of them even taught you.

Now spit out that gum and go say ‘thank you.’