Mismatch

I had nearly despaired of getting any of my thesis written in the next few months; resigned myself to the prospect of cramming six months of work into the few weeks between my internship and graduation in May.

And then snow began to fall. And kept falling.

Enter: Snow Day.

I know–it’s just one day, but it might save me. Glory hallelujah, thank you, Mother Nature.

Right after I sneak in a post here, it’s back to the books in a fierce way.

Slightly more than two weeks in, and it keeps getting better. The students are easing back from their initial, wide-eyed curiosity (or narrow-eyed suspicion, depending on individual temperament) and starting to trust me. Yesterday a group of young men approached me after school:

“Mrs. Lybbert?” (Holding up the school district’s newest required reading for sixth grade.)

“Yeah.”

“Did you know there’s cussing in this book?”

“Isn’t that interesting? If you were to use that language in the hall, Mr. Lupo or somebody would be on your back instantly, wouldn’t they?”

They agree wholeheartedly. Discipline at Frontier Middle School is somewhat more stringent then I’ve seen in other schools in the district. I can see the question in their eyes they haven’t dared to ask, yet, even though the first “cussing” chapter was assigned last week. I have asked them to keep a question/thought log as they read, hoping they’d explore themes like this. So far, it’s all ink and paper. They are holding their real thoughts under wraps. These boys are on the verge, but they hesitate.

I decide to help them out. I say, “We don’t talk like that in the classroom, and here we’ve said you have to read this book.”

“I know!” They explode in an overlapping eagerness to discuss this contradiction. I smile. Snow is falling fast, and they need to catch the bus. “These are such good questions–exactly the sort of questions I want you to write about and share. Will you ask this tomorrow in class?”

“Really?”

What sort of questions do they think I’m asking them for? Questions that have simple answers, probably. Not questions I cannot answer–we have taught them, for six or seven years now, that doing well in school is all about having the right answer. I want them to understand that success is more about asking the right questions–even the ones they suspect there may be no answer to.

In that sense, I was a little disappointed that school was cancelled. I’m looking forward to what they come up with Monday.


3 responses to “Mismatch

  • Ruth

    The narrowed-eye suspicious kids are the ones that always ask the best questions. They really want to know AND they do ask the questions I can’t answer. It is good for them to know we don’t have all the answers. It is even better for them to think we believe they can [and even expect them to] solve such riddles, find balance in chaos around them AND some of the answers we may not know. I often ask some of these questioning kids to let me know if they can come up with an answer …
    Perhaps you can invite these same youth to ‘voice’ their opinions to adults that matter in making a difference! Do you think that they realize they ARE the answer to many of the conundrums of the world?

  • kimkiminy

    Even if you don’t have the answer (which you will), they will respect you more for saying so and discussing it with them like adults. And you will have gotten them asking the right questions.

  • Flamingo Dancer

    I love the openness and honesty of children, especially the younger ones.

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