I’m sure Ms. X and Mr. Y are in full-on countdown mode by now. In exactly two weeks, they’ll say, it will be the Last Day for Students, and a few days after that they’ll “be free.” Maybe their perspective helps them navigate the end of a school year, or maybe it just helps them “get through the day,” as One Ms. X used to say years ago. But even as The End approaches, I still aspire to something more than “getting through.”
Perspective. It’s a powerful thing. I was reminded of that on Friday morning, when I was involved in a (thankfully very minor) accident on my way to school. The light had turned red, and I was coming to a stop, but the driver behind me didn’t quite manage to stop in time. I couldn’t find any damage beyond a few scratches on my car, and I seem to be physically fine other than some residual stiffness. But the other driver had damaged her car, and of course we had to wait for Relevant Authorities and Official Reports. All of a sudden, the minor frets about the day, the things I’d been thinking about as I made a “perfectly normal” drive to work, receded into insignificance. Everyone was alive! No one was hurt! There didn’t seem to be any major damage! Less than ninety minutes after the accident, I was back to something like my regular routine; the covered dish I’d brought for the Special Lunch on Friday wasn’t even harmed, though the grated cheese topping no longer topped it. This was the first time we’d tried to do a Special Lunch for Principals’ Appreciation Week and Education Bosses’ Day, and our Relevant Powers seemed to appreciate it.
Perspective. It’s a powerful thing. Ms. X and Mr. Y see “the children” when they look at their classes full of teenagers, many of whom have responsible jobs and some of whom have children of their own. Another colleague sees that “you can’t trust anybody.” In this Google+ thread, George shared a link to an article about a very different college retention program, one that helps at-risk students see themselves as potential leaders rather than potential failures. I wonder what Ms. X and Mr. Y would think of that! Would they remember their own struggles, some of which I’ve heard about over the years, and be grateful that someone was helping others avoid the pain? Or would they be angry and resentful, certain that if “I had to do it,” others should endure similar difficulties?
Perspective. It’s powerful and important, but we’re not always aware of it. Sometimes we think there’s only one possible way to interpret things … but there’s usually a whole cluster of possible interpretations. That’s why, when someone starts to seem “bad and lazy” or “loud and rude” to me, I’ll talk about the only possible way an authority figure could interpret this, or use similar language. If I want L (or X, Y, and Z, or A, B, and C, or anybody for that matter) to value my perspective, I need to make sure I acknowledge the possibility of theirs being different.
In these “last few days,” the Latin Family will be wrapping things up, discovering a few new things, and making our last Major Assessment products. There’s a whole new set of stories for the Latin I group, a set that I was able to work on over the unexpectedly quiet weekend. There’s an expanded set for the intermediate group, with three new Fabellae joining the four Fabulae we added at the end of the fall semester. And the advanced group will be adding their own new twist to the stories at the natural break point of Lectio XL. The Schedule begins to be disrupted with graduation practices and Special Stuff for seniors, and T has to take her final exam a few days early because her family is moving. But from my perspective this morning, these last few days look pleasant and productive.
I wonder what these days look like from Ms. X and Mr. Y’s perspective … or from L’s perspective, as he once again deals with the consequences of his “bad, lazy kid” label and the ways he reacts to that. I wonder what they look like when you embrace “trust no one” as a life motto, or when “getting through the day” is your highest goal. And I wonder, with all the dizzying diversity of perspectives you can find among a few hundred (let alone a few thousand!) people, how to build and sustain larger joyful learning communities that allow us all to hear and learn from each other. How can we encourage Ms. X, Mr. Y, Various Powers, and “bad, lazy ones” like L to sit down with each other, listen to each other, and build something meaningful together?
I wonder what other insights, discoveries, and changed perspectives await us all in the days and weeks to come!