Tuesday, October 16, 2007

what is school?

  1. A place where a student pulls out a shotgun from a duffel bag and proceeds to commit suicide in front of the library.
  2. Where a girl stays after the last bell and finally wants to talk. But she says nothing. She turns her back to the teacher, lifts up her shirt, and there, in firework red, are whip marks scattered deep across her back. An extension cord can do that? Nope. Not without a father.
  3. An institution that tries to juggle two seemingly incongruous concepts: differentiated instruction and state testing.
  4. Where a girl decides that the entire class should hear that her special, wonderful boyfriend placed his genitals in her mouth the previous night behind the Tilt-A-Whirl during the church carnival. Honestly, who really wants to talk about Hamlet?
  5. A chance for ninth graders to indoctrinate themselves by intoxicating themselves on vodka-filled water bottles. Good old-fashioned fun. But I've never had to have my stomach pumped, and surely never twice in one year.
Wait. Ask me again.

What is school?
  1. Statistically speaking, the safest means of travel out there.
  2. Wireless technology.
  3. Diversity.
  4. Health class.
  5. Frog dissections.
It's all perception and lenses.

Taylor, thanks for the inspiration. You've got a lot of moxie!


Cathy Nelson said...

To sa that I found this frightening is an understatement. But what disgusts me more is the raw tuth of it. It is what keeps me walking in the door of my public schol daily, withe the prayer that I might make a difference.

Chris said...

This is so powerful, Ken. As Cathy said - raw truth. I've been there when I had to make the referral to Child & Youth Services. When I was sure that a kid was on something but not sure if he was going to handle it (or knew what he was about to handle).

Anonymous said...

Wow! What you have said is errorless. I hope that the young girls and boys that I work with trek on a better path. And the elementary children that I work with a few times a week, restores my mistrusted ways. With that, I can only see working with small children to keep my sprits and hopes in people. I rather deal with a child who eats crayons and glue vs. a teen who comes to me and tells me that they don't know who the daddy is or as you have said, “…a student pulls out a shotgun from a duffel bag and proceeds to commit suicide...”
It’s the “Truth” that brings the students to the school and it’s the “Trust” we give to the students that keeps them coming back.

Anne said...

My first reaction was horror. My son will be there in two years. Oh No! My second reaction was gratitude that there are teachers who care.

kenrodoff said...

@anne: there are rare moments that stand out for a myriad of reasons. sometimes an event is just flat out memorable, one I plan to include in my memoir. then there are other events that leave an indelible mark that invariably stay with me.

but when everything is accounted for: when lessons have been delivered, when learning has taken place, when assessments have been scored, I remember that this is an institution full of people.

they are dynamic. they are change in motion. and I am fortunate enough to have a chance to make a positive impact in their lives.