Teach Your Children Well…

I used to write a little tiny insignificant blog every fall, just as the semester and school year would begin, admonishing my fellow educators (mostly in public schools, where it’s at) to be steadfast, kick ignorance in the butt, and remember that it is about the students, with some sort of folderol about “if it is good for the kids, then it is good to do.”

I still believe all that mess.  It was my life’s work, and it is yours as well.

But here you are, running toward the end of the semester and the end of the school year with great abandon, dreaming of languid summer days and stacks of novels to read with no alarm clocks and a calendar full of leisurely mornings with a cuppa on the back porch (or if you are truly blessed, upon the WTPP of your own making) and a glass of cheap wine (maybe from a box because you aren’t paid enough for a bottle with a cork in it) on the front porch just to irritate your neighbors who still toil in the dusk hours…

So I offer this equally tiny tidbit to my fellow educators near and far, wholly aware that I am no longer trudging alongside you through the tundra of formal education, mile after mile…

I know your “summer vacation” is all too brief, and barely even exists, but it is still way longer than the hiatus of the neighbors that surround you.  I know you don’t really get paid during the summer.  Rather, that you get a minuscule summertime paycheck, but it has been divided equally among the 12 months, so it is verily a tidbit of your actual worth, and it is not enough to take you to the faraway places of your dreams. I also know that for most of you, there are approximately 9 days between late May and early August that you are not in your classroom/bandhall/office/sweatshop involved in the due diligence of your profession, whether it be inventory, figuring out what went wrong or right, undergoing extensive professional development or graduate study, and preparing for the next semester at your own expense, and that you probably spent those 9 days at Corpus, Destin, Pagosa Springs, a state park in Oklahoma, Lake Brownwood, or at home trying to get your flowers to grow.

Don’t wax and whine too much about those kids you left behind in the classroom.  I know you love 86% of them almost as much as you love your own children, and that every endeavor they undertake, and every accomplishment they realize, and every itty-bitty garland of success they enjoy is tied into your own self-worth as a human and as an educator of young minds.

So, in these final moments of the school year, finish big.  Fight the good fight, and run the race.  Stand up to ignorance and bigotry and poverty and hunger and anger and sadness and fear and hatred and despair, and celebrate goodness and learning and strength and faith and love and mobility and competence and confidence and the 457 other things you do every day for those kids.

We gotta start somewhere, and I think it is with you.  May the Lord shine his face upon you and grant you peace.

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About Jonathan Hooper

Funny you should ask. I'm older than you, funnier than you, more embarrassed than you, about as creative as you, sleep less than you, stay up later than you, more content than you, enjoy working more than you, worry less than I used to, enjoy home more than away, enjoy family more than friends, play more music than you, listen to less music than you, eat more ice cream than you, drink less than you, read more than you, ride bicycles more than most of you, break stuff more than you, fix the broken stuff more than you, appreciate silence more than you, look for solitude more than you think I do, enjoy grace exactly as much as you (except for, well, my niece Grace), always wished I lived someplace else, and have been overweight since birth. I despise authority, avoid confrontation unless absolutely necessary (which it usually is), ask a lot of questions, give a lot of answers, trust others too much, wish I was more visually creative, wish I had been better at the political game while taking pride in avoiding it for so long, support the Democratic Party even though I am a Christian and support equal rights for all even if they love someone of the same sex (which also offends me out a bit, but that's my problem as much as theirs), hate oil addiction, think most Republicans are short-sighted (if not lemmings led to destruction), cannot see Russia from my house, do not want to organize my community, think the best and worst people in the world are my former students, is frustrated by Alzheimer's (because it is approaching), wants to change the world (but fears the world has changed me), worships God the best I can given the limitations of my heart and geographical location, love my wife above all others, love my two sons next, two daughters-in-law after them, then the new grand-daughter follows, and the rest of you are somewhere later--but I like you guys, too, enough to get your back from time to time as needed. Five of you are on my list of people I can trust in a life and death emergency (and three of you don't even know you're on the list). But mostly, I eat more ice cream than you (except my brother David).
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One Response to Teach Your Children Well…

  1. Cal Lewiston says:

    Except for the part about being older than I, you may be correct on every other point, Jonathan. Few if any of our colleagues are the same age, in fact. Seeing photos of and reading about your mentorship of a recently retired and much younger educator, emphasized that wide gulf which often lies between between experience and accomplishment, or at least the sense thereof. As you so accurately and poignantly state, one’s work never ends, but continues from year to year with new and similar challenges to meet again.

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