Sunday, May 6, 2007

A Paradox

The blogs I read probably collectively update in the neighborhood of 100 times a day, so I don't typically do much in-depth reading. A couple, though, always command my full attention. Found this on Whispers in the Loggia:

[A] young man, 22 years old, once took a piece of marble and sculpted in it two of the most deep human sentiments: suffering accepted from the hand of God does not diminish the beauty of the human person but increases it, and -- second sentiment -- even in death, a son continues to have full confidence in his mother. This is the Pietá of Michelangelo, that you can see every time you enter in the Basilica of St Peter in Rome.

Michelangelo, the author of the Pietá, is considered one of the greatest artists in the world. I don't believe it! The greatest artists are the educators -- are you -- because you try to sculpt the best of yourselves, of who you are and what you know, not in a piece of marble, but in living, breathing human beings, who are the glory of God.

-Archbishop Pietro Sambini at the National Catholic Education Association convention in Baltimore last month

As I get closer to the end of my student teaching and my collegiate career, this is a good sort of thing to come across. Before I started spending time in the classroom, I looked at teaching and saw a noble, almost regal, profession. I saw a vocation. Being in the classroom (and the break room, a habitually gloomy place) reveals an exhausting, grinding, often thankless environment. A lot of it was in stark and almost painful contrast to everything I believed about teaching (especially after being in New Orleans in January). I've had to work really hard at not letting it get under my skin.

I realize I'm young and idealistic, but really, how is that a problem? I believe all kids can be taught and, more importantly, that they should be taught. I know some kids are never going to make it past 5th grade math abilities and 7th grade reading skills, but that should not be because anyone gave up on them. I know some kids are beyond my ability to help, especially when I have 32 of them in a room, but I'm going to try anyway. I know teachers never get the resources they need or the credit they deserve, but the kids don't either. I know I'm not a miracle worker -- but I know this guy who is.

I will probably be teaching in San Antonio, and I will probably be teaching some of the kinds of kids that get given up on. I hope -- I pray -- that I remember my idealistic foolishness enough not to be the one who does that to them.

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