Words for the wise was a product of an incident yesterday. I was left exasperated, exhausted, and feeling somewhat unintelligent. I calmed down and found the wisdom shared by Winnie the Pooh helpful in creating a new lesson plan for today’s poetry time, but, first, let me explain the back story from yesterday.
About two months ago, a student brought their scooter to school and was riding it up and down the sidewalk in front of the building we occupy. Our school is located in what was a commercial building our school division acquired. There is no space to scooter in the front of the building, because there is a sidewalk and a parking lot immediately in front of the building. Usually, both are busy so it is an unsafe pastime. Second, students must wear proper equipment i.e. approved helmet, knee pads, and elbow pads. The young man in question is proficient, or so I have been told, so he took the equipment rule as a problem. Frankly, I would to, if I was any good at riding my scooter.
Yesterday, another student brought their scooter to school. While I was occupied, two students, including the aforementioned young man noted, borrowed the scooter and rode it in the parking lot and on the sidewalk while others watched. I was angry; that is the polite way of putting it. I gave some students credit. They recalled explicit instructions about the conditions a scooter could be used i.e. equipment, supervision, and location. Others had forgotten, but it was more likely a situation they were not listening for any number of reasons. This morning I received an email from the young man’s parent saying he informed her he could ride the scooter out back. I am not sure where out back is, because there is no place to ride out back. He left out the equipment and supervision.
Listening, which I think is essential to being responsible for one’s actions and words, seems limited to what a person wants. We listen when we are motivated by words or sounds that are we want to hear. I think that might be human nature. We lack mindfulness and being in the present moment. As luck would have it, sitting on my desk was a William Stafford poem entitled Listening. We had a great conversation after reading it, reflection time, and sharing in pairs.
My father could hear a little animal step,
or a moth in the dark against the screen,
and every far sound called the listening out
into places where the rest of us had never been.
More spoke to him from the soft wild night
than came to our porch for us on the wind,
we would watch him look up and his face go keen
till the walls of the world flared, widened.
My father heard so much that we still stand
inviting the quiet by turning the face,
waiting for a time when something in the night
will touch us too from that other place.
Thank you William Stafford. Winnie, I was brave and strong enough to tell my students I was listening, but I cannot always do what they want. I simply do not have the power some days and am smart enough to recognize this.