Monday, May 09, 2011

Closing Time

Another school year has ended. Another set of students, some that I've gotten to know quite well, are gone. Maybe forever. Bethany and I wondered, when we were in college, how professors managed after pouring their lives into students for 4+ years to just let them go. Now that I've been teaching half a decade, I still don't know. It is hard. But it is good.

It is good in a way that is hard to explain. I'm not so far from graduation myself that I've forgotten how the 'real world' seemed. We were frightened and bitter in no small measure that all our education had not prepared us for taxes and leases and car payments and gas bills (we then realized that this was not education's job, but ours). I cannot believe that it will be much different for other students that I've seen graduate -- some go out and conquer, some just go out, some get conquered.

It will be 6 months after graduation for some of them to learn what we strove to teach them freshman year. For many others, it will be much longer, if at all. Our public school paradigm of careless knowledge dumping (this is an overstatement, of course) does not work with Wisdom -- you cannot teach wisdom, you can only point the way and say 'The Lord precedes you; walk in faith." That is a hard lesson for me to follow, much less an 18 year old. But we point as we walk, knowing that they will quickly overtake us. We hope for postcards.

It is rarely the "good" student (the A+ student, stereotypically) that really shines. Too many years of working the system can damage your ability to really grow (I speak from experience -- my own shining, if indeed there is any, comes from my decade long "dark night of the soul"); those who get Bs and Cs, who scrape by it seems, often make something of themselves in ways that are refreshing and surprising -- they break the industrial paradigm and seek green pastures, so to speak. They often remember to send postcards. They are the ones, it seems, who when pointed towards the Way actually make it on the narrow road. Obviously, this is not always the case: sometimes the "successful" student does it, sometimes the "failure" does also. Often times "average" students don't make it. Maybe it is just that I have a few who have shined so brightly that I think immediately of them.

At the end of a semester, it is good to be a teacher. It is hard. But it is good.

Send postcards.

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