Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Back to School

"Why," sighed an exasperated middle schooler this morning, "do they always have to mess up the schedule every quarter?"

By mess up the student meant change, and I am very much in sympathy with that view. I don't like change. I want everything to stay the same forever and ever. Even when details are far from perfect, I seem to derive security from sameness and predictability. It's hard for me to picture how things could be better.

I live in a country where everything changes constantly, and obviously this causes me some problems from time to time. In a recent professional development exercise, all the teachers were sorted into groups based on personality type. I ended up in a group of others like me, people who wanted to be in control. How did we manage in Haiti, we asked each other? We figured out that we find one small area we can control: our classrooms. While we work on being flexible, we feel that in our classrooms, our kingdoms, nothing must ever go wrong. Our word must be law. Structure must reign supreme.

And...I teach middle schoolers. Again, not a real recipe for stability.

The fact is, as I'm learning more and more the older I get, I am not in control. Of anything. Any idea that I am is purely an illusion, and that illusion can be shattered in seconds, by riots, or the issues of a middle schooler, or, perhaps an earthquake.

We started back to school today, and I am back in my classroom, my kingdom. Already this morning I've dealt with two schedule changes, talked to kids who lost a much loved brother and cousin over the break, and confronted a room full of eighth graders who were happy to see each other again and not so much interested in me taking attendance. And it's only 10 AM.

Here's something C. S. Lewis wrote that I need to read often:
“The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own,’ or ‘real’ life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life — the life God is sending one day by day; what one calls one’s ‘real life’ is a phantom of one’s own imagination. This at least is what I see at moments of insight: but it’s hard to remember it all the time.”
Indeed. This semester, I'll try again to remember it. I'm not in control; God is. Sometimes my schedule will be messed up by someone's need, or someone's joy, or Haiti's unpredictability. And that's OK. That is my schedule for that day.


Janet said...

Sigh. I wish I got to create my own own "real life." It's not very spiritual of me, but there it is...

Ruth said...

I know, Janet, I totally agree!

John said...

Our kids school just informed us that the dress code has changed!


Now the boys need green socks instead of black.


How is any normal Haitian family ever able to keep up with this ridunkulousity?