My own backpack
My daughter once dressed as a teacher for a school Halloween carnival. She wore a pair of my old wire-rimmed glasses without lenses, a collared-blouse buttoned up to her neck, a skirt, black tights, and she carried a tote full of papers. Oh my, I hope I never looked like that, I laughed. She said that she wanted to be like me, not look like me.
But we are very different. We grew up in two different worlds. I made certain of that.
Contrary to philosophers, like Jean-Jacques Rousseau or John Locke, children are not blank slates upon which educators inscribe valuable knowledge. Every child comes to school with a personal story, an imprinted script, a long list of hard lessons already learned. Even at the age of five. Each story has its individual elements of drama, tragedy and mystery, and not necessarily tabloid fodder of abuse, neglect, or deprivation, sometimes simply a plot-full of garden-variety issues.
We may never know the beginning of a student’s story. Like walking into a darkened theater in the middle of the film, scenes flash across faces but we can’t always make sense of the action. One thing is certain however, before our students walk through the classroom doors, defining moments have already taken place in their lives. Life outside of school leaves an impression on their hearts that can make it difficult, perhaps nearly impossible, to reach their minds.
I was once a child like that. And I know many others.
We all know them. We are those children.