But this morning I was languishing in end of semester freedom--grades posted, no emails from students complaining about grades, the whole thing--over and done. And with that, I thought of all I'd learned this semester, and here's where MLK comes in. His speech was required freshman reading. As we unpacked the dense 8-page excerpt (single spaced!), we talked about protests and sit-ins and what it means to civilly disobey the status quo.
When someone I've just met asks what I do, I say I teach. Lately I add, I don't know if anyone learns anything. I had a passionate teaching semester. I was riled up about world injustices, big and small. We talked about Schindler, Malala Yousafazi--courageous people who challenged laws. We read about a river in New Zealand that a tribe fought to preserve--and they won. The river was given legal person status. (True!) I retained all of this, think about it, am energized. Did my students learn anything though? How do I know? Maybe knowledge will crop up here and there when they least expect it--as it often does for me.
As much as being a student (in school, in life) is an opportunity to learn, teaching is a hundred times more so. My brain pops with the histories we uncovered; I'm dizzy with the thrill of waking up from a deep sleep and thinking of Martin Luther King. Maybe that's the real payoff, the real reason I do this. Although semesters don't always end like this one, on an up note.
Summer is almost here. When my friend K. leaves for Budapest on Monday, I will not be on the plane. Eastern Europe, or any part of Europe, isn't happening for me, at least as far as I know today. Another friend left for Prague yesterday. I said, send my love to the Charles Bridge. This summer, I'll go with the tide or the flow or whatever it is that pulls me in the right direction.