I was completely and utterly wrong. For weeks, I predicted that school closures in Virginia would extend through the middle of April. We would be back to finish our year. I even looked forward to a spring of deep learning unencumbered with the pressures of state testing. Yesterday, the governor announced that our year was over. Poof. Over. It reminds me this passage from Ray Bradbury’s science fiction classic, All Summer in a Day (read it online. You have time).
“It was as if, in the midst of a film concerning an avalance, a tornado, a hurricane, a volcanic eruption, something had, first, gone wrong with the sound apparatus, thus muffling and finally cutting off all noise, all of the blasts and repercussions and thunders, and then, second ripped the fim from the projecor and inserted in its place a peaceful tropical slide which did not move or tremor. The world ground to a standstill. The silence was so immense and unbelievable that you felt your ears had been stuffed or you had lost your hearing altogether.”
From my writing chair, the world outside of my window looks the same as it does every spring. The same birds have returned and are buzzing around the house trying once again to get their nests up outside of the front door before we notice. The daffodils came up again just like they always do. The cardinal continues to throw his body into the window over and over and over again. All of the natural world is certain and predictable, but our world does not feel the same.
I see my social media friends setting up learning stations for their children: a daily schedule, plenty of books, online resources, a computer for each child, even decorations to mimic a classroom. Your kids aren’t the ones I am losing sleep over these days. They will be fine. In fact, they will be great and may even learn more in a quiet place without the constraints of the regular classroom. They won’t have that Kid in the room who comes to school angry. You know, the Kid they tell you about at dinner every night. “Guess what Kid did today? He threw something at the substitute and then said a bad word.”
What teachers worry most about is not your kid, but that Kid. Unfortunately, there isn’t just one in each classroom. Not all of the ones at risk are behavior problems. We worry about the quiet ones who ask if they can take home the extra fruit and milk from breakfast and snack. We worry about the ones who have told us about drugs, alcohol abuse, bad touches and physical and emotional abuse. We worry about the ones who don’t have a computer or internet. We worry about the ones whose parents are probably losing their already low paying jobs. We worry about no one being able to help them with their bag of work. We worry about no one at home valuing education enough to turn off the tv or video games and set aside time for learning.
If you are reading this blog today, you are fortunate, and I am by no means denouncing your homeschooling. I am truly grateful for your dedication and love for your children. You are a teacher’s dream. Thank you. But please take time if you are so inclined, to pray for those who depend on the structure, the stability and predictability of school. Thanks.