Friday, August 26, 2011

Back to Skool

School days, school days, back to Golden Rule days...okay, maybe not.
It is, after all, 2011, and not many of our children even know what we mean if we refer to the Golden Rule. How many adults adhere to this ethic of reciprocity? Or its inverse, the Silver Rule...don't treat others the way you would not like to be treated? We probably don't use these rules enough in theory or in practice. But as I watched the neighborhood little ones queue up at the busstop, I was trying to remember my first day of school. We were in Okinawa, and our school was a rough little quonset hut.

It was kind of an open school concept, with several classrooms in the hut. We rode a little bus across the island, and I got off at the wrong bus stop and had to walk home by myself. Somehow I found my way down a busy highway, past a dozen little Japanese shops. When I got home, my mom was frantic, and I was safe and sound. I had the safety and security of a loving home ...something I believe every child deserves.

One of the back to school customs I loved when my kids were little was one that's still practiced in Germany. All first graders receive a "schulteute" on their first day of school, and it's filled with candy, toys, and school supplies. It's just a simple, lovely celebration of that rite of passage...when your sphere of influence completely changes because your kids have this overwhelming thing called "school" to master.

These aren't my family's images...just wanted you to see what a schulteute looks like!

I've watched all the little faces of Bryan ISD's children as they've returned to school this week. Some had a refreshing summer, with vacations, family time, excitement and restoration. Others have had to endure loneliness, hunger, and insecurity as the "safe zone" called school wasn't open or available for them. It's such an illustration of the "haves" and "have nots"...the new backpacks, school clothes, bright new shoes...and the old backpacks, the ripped clothes, the old sneakers. Some are so apprehensive, anxious, excited; others are completely unimpressed. Our new superintendent has a big push: Be the One. I think I get it...I know what he the one to dream, imagine, create, solve, take responsibility, make a difference. It really does all come down to that one child, that one teacher. I have a special prayer for all my teacher friends, and for all the teachers my grandchildren will encounter this year...I think first and foremost I pray that we are all gentle with one another. The world is a nervous enough place, I want our children to feel confident and secure in their knowing...that school will be a safe place to grow and learn. And more than that, I pray that this year will be a complete adventure...with joy at every turn, that 'being the one' won't completely exhaust them, and that the year will be one of blessing and delight. I was reading in Ann Voskamp's book, One Thousand Gifts, a quote by Tagore that exemplifies what I think teachers must do to make it. If we can live like this:
I slept and dreamt life was joy. I awoke and saw life was service. I acted, and behold, service was joy.
And, okay, when the going gets tough and we finally reach the end of the day or the end of the week, perhaps we should throw in that Jimmy Buffett quote, too, "It's five o'clock somewhere."

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