Saturday, May 24, 2014

Teach like it matters

Not so long ago, the lambs in front of you were no more than a few dozen cells bouncing down a woman's Fallopian tube. Before that, they were nothing. And into nothingness they will return, long before the oak tree on your town's green gives up its final acorn.

The humans before us, the one's in our classrooms, are anything but abstract, yet that's how we officially see them here in Jersey. Data points dictate what we do in the classroom.

I wish I were making that up.

The parsley in our garden decided to bolt, so we ate it. I chopped up most of the plant, as well as a few dozen cilantro sprouts rising towards the May sun, and mixed them with some potatoes and honey, and celebrated the start of summer.

A parsley plant lasts a couple of years; we last about 38 parley plant lifetimes, give or take  few--that's a finite number.

I saw a lot of people die back when I practiced medicine, and most of them were young--pediatricians carry a special kind of sadness.

Parsley plants are not abstract. Recipes, until eaten, are.
Children are not abstract. Global economies are.
Fingers picking parsley plants are not abstract. Words are.

So why write?

I once had a child come on our van with a stab wound to the heart--her blood graced the ceiling, the windows, and our bodies. That she survived spoke more to her will than our ability. Her resuscitation was a clusterfuck, but she survived anyway.

I wonder what she is doing now. Is she living her life as passionately as we hoped we'd save it?

Looking around, the answer is probably no.

Are you?


Mary Ann Reilly said...

Since this all arbitrary, I've decided she is living deliberately and thinks about that will that helped her survive a knife to the heart.

doyle said...

Dear Mary Ann,

I pray (and believe) that is right.

I also pray ((but cannot yet believe) that we all live the same way.

I know you do--you've helped me more than you know.

Barbara said...

We don't know what happens to those we touch in life after contact is lost, we just pray we've made a difference, students and patients alike.
I'd like to believe that the girl survived to become someone involved in the health care profession. She had scars, and memories perhaps that some people put her back together.
We've both had students that have remembered us not for what we taught them, but how we helped them learn and how we made them feel about themselves in the big world. Sometimes they even come back and say thank you. I don't get a pension, but those moments are worth millions to me, because I made a difference and so do you. We pass the torch, and hope they don't burn their fingers. (same with our kids... )