Those Who Can, Teach

I am a lover of education. All kinds. I like the sit down, listen, and absorb kind. I like the interactive work as a team kind. I like the reading and evaluating and critiquing kind. And the athletic instruction, like hit the ball this way, it will go there, I like that kind, too. Since my boys were little, I have been teaching them stuff. And the older they get, the more they teach me. And each other.

My siblings are also lovers of education. My brother, who spent a large portion of his life an agnostic, now teaches a Sunday school class, one that kids can’t wait to get into. I don’t know much about what he teaches, but there was a viewing of The Life of Brian. I am confident more than one mind has been opened in his class.

My sister convinced a New York City artist to ship several of his pieces to her kids’ school in Arizona. So that the entire student body could learn to love art. That’s magical. And that is mom, the greatest teacher who ever lived, pulling the strings. Pushing us forward.

Not only was she a fervent educator in the classroom, mom was deeply committed outside of the building, too. When my brother was 16 and a new driver, mom encouraged him to skip school one day. She needed another vehicle to block the entrance to the elementary school where she taught. Her union was on strike, and she and her compatriots planned to prevent substitute teachers from entering the building. And so there was my brother, barely more than a boy, with a junior license, participating in a little civil disobedience. God knows what he learned along the way. Was that her plan?, I wonder. Did she hope to open his eyes to supporting a cause? Or did she really just need another driver? I don’t know.

Lately, all of the talk in our community is about a ballot question proposing a tax hike to support our public school system. There is heated debate on both sides of the fence. The vote will be close. I am a supporter. I am a believer in our city government, our city school administration. I trust that both are genuine in the quest to educate our students and make us a better community. And I like their list of proposed enhancements.

I have written letters, held information sessions in our home. Lately, I have spiraled into a Facebook discussion on the issue, so crazy, so severe that I need a 12 step program to recover, to get out.  A friend chided me for spending 48 contiguous hours monitoring comments and responding, maybe even over-responding.

(It was not 48 hours. Definitely. I think. OK, I might have lost track.)

Why?, my sons asked. Why you? Let someone else do it.

I don’t know why. I just know that I must. I like to think that it is mom, continuing to live through me, continuing to fight for all that is right and good. But really, maybe I’m just stubborn. Maybe I just want to win. Either way, I know that she would be proud. Proud that I believe in a cause and am willing to fight for that cause, regardless of the outcome. She would join me in the crusade, I am sure.

And so I add to the list of hopes and dreams for my sons. That they find causes to support passionately, even when a certain level of crazy has set in. That they teach Sunday school, and occasionally show a movie, one that might make the church elders shake their heads, but also might make a kid look forward to Sunday services. That they love art and music and all things magical and do whatever it takes to introduce that love to others.

And that they have children.  And that they tell those children stories of a grandmother. A grandmother who was a teacher. The greatest who ever lived.

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