Friday, October 19, 2012


 Disobedience is not an issue if obedience is not the goal. 

What are our children missing?

In a word: gumption.

Easy enough for me to toss some more marshmallows on the flaming pit of hopes we're burning in front of the ones we pretend to love.

Gumption requires hope.

Despite the long hours I see my students habitually toss away youth for incremental blips in a GPA that promises them some kind of future, there's little joy in habits alone.

Diversions substitute for joy, at a cost far deeper than the couple of bucks tossed  at a barista in the morning, the few quarters tossed for a loosie at the convenience store, the buck tossed at Apple for a new tune to serve as today's theme.

I teach good kids. Real good kids.

Our town used to have the Charms Candy Company--they left in '73, as the last war Americans could identify as a war wound down.

Our town filled an order for processed uranium back in 1943, 69 tons of it for the Manhattan Project. Westinghouse left, the radioactivity will be here for generations.

Our town held the Scientific Glass Apparatus Co.--the buildings are gone, the mercury remains.

Our town welcomed Peerless Tube--the CEO headed our county GOP. Our neighborhood smelled like a pool liner as we got sprayed with tons of vinyl chloride. They're gone--we're still here.

If our kids could feel the history of the soil beneath their feet, they'd leave as well. Our town is littered with the carcasses of broken promises. Ronald Reagan visited us way back when because we are that kind of town.

Our kids are still striving to be those kinds of citizens in a country that no longer needs them.

So what does a teacher do?

Show them the natural world, the one that uses a currency foreign to the dollar, to the yen, to Renminbi.
Show them the joy of song, of dance, of learning, of knowing.
Show them the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Gettysburg Address.
Show them how to sow, how to harvest, how to discern, how to live.

Then trust that they will choose joy.

I know a few happy people, but I know few happy people who found happiness inside anything controlled by humans.

The world keeps its promises even when humans do not. I want the kids to know this.

Joy is trickier than the errant path of a dollar bill in a nor'easter...

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