Steadily, They Learn

September 14, 2021- The group of 28 entered the classroom, one fist bump and “Good Morning” at a time. They knew their teacher was on a personal “Mommy Mission” today, and that she was only a cell phone call away, but the ambiance in the room was of people concerned with their own mission: Building the skills needed to go forward into a world that could go in any direction, and which they were determined to set in a direction that will reflect their emerging values.

I spent the day with 28 very delightful 11-year-olds, all committed to task and tolerant of my initial confusion as to what time to get things started. We made it through everything that was on the agenda, with a few slow workers still to complete a set of math problems, at day’s end. The math teacher is a patient man, more concerned with actual mastery than meeting deadlines, so the stragglers are, within reason, in a good place.

We covered equations, a few detail-oriented short essays on various topics, a short story about a Lakota Sioux child who was coming of age, and essential themes of geography, including types of maps. One of the short essays was about spiders. As it happened, the day began with a girl shrieking that a spider was about to crawl into an open backpack. I went over, found the juvenile tarantula, trapped it in a cup and released the hapless creature outside in a wooded area. It was gratifying that the kids were concerned that the animal not be killed.

This is an example of why I keep going in, for selected school assignments. There are earnest people who see what is going on around them, and are not going to be caught helpless. They need, and deserve, as many advocates as can be mustered. Besides, expanding my heart family is always a good thing.

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