Monday, January 05, 2009

Why I teach

So, today was the first day back at school, and I was discussing Native American creation myths with my at-risk juniors. I compared 'The World on the Turtle's Back' to such common creation myths as the Big Bang Theory and Christianity's God. I try to explain, without making their heads explode, that no one really knows--or ever will know--exactly how the universe was formed. We all have our theories, some more scientifically provable than others, but still theories nonetheless. They think the Native American myths are really crazy and out there until I suggest that maybe an invisible omniscient being spending seven days creating uhh..everything...and molding man out of clay...might be a little "out there" to some people.

Then, inevitably, comes the following conversation:

Student 1: Well, what do you believe?

Me: I don't really know for sure. (Note: I do know. But, due to separation of church and state, unless I'm prepared to discuss the creation stories of every major religion, I best not divulge.)

Student 1: Yes you do.

Student 2: The question is, which came first--the chicken or the egg?

Me: The chicken. God didn't make eggs.

Student 1: Ah ha! You're a Christian! (He grins as if he's just totally found me out)

Me: Yes, I am.

Student 2: So, let me ask something that's sort of related.

Me: (guarded) Okay...

Student 2: If we don't know how life was created, and we're always evolving, isn't it possible that all of life has a disease and that disease is life?

(all kids turn to stare at him.)

Me: Um...

Student 2: Do you know what I mean? Like, what if we've all got some disease that we've always had, and that disease is being alive, and when you die that means you're cured and it's actually a good thing?

Me: Um... (Bear in mind, this is a kid who, on a good day, manages to string words together to form a complete sentence without profanity) That's a really interesting thought. Dude (yeah, I 'dude' them), I'm really impressed--that's a pretty profound thought.

Student 2: You know?!?

Me: Yeah, hey, your guess is as good as mine.

And then he asked about lunch.

I'll miss this job when I'm gone. Yeah, the kids bug me sometimes and do totally stupid things...but once in awhile they pop out some sort of polished gem they've been working away at for months or years, and it just flies out into the open and I get to catch it and either add to it or hold on to it.


1 comment:

Jacquie said...

That's awesome. I miss face to face classes just because of "those" people. I hope I get students like that when I teach!