The Death of Innocence
[This was originally written in June of 2007.]
It doesn’t happen all at once. It happens one lost moment at a time.
I was at my son’s school on Friday to pick him up. He attends public school half-time, and I homeschool him the other half of the day. On this particular day, I was picking him up so that we could attend the exhibit and lunch on his older brother’s last day of Archaeology Day Camp.
As I stood in the hallway, waiting for his teacher to bring him down to the waiting area, a class of children came down the hall on the way to lunch, led by their teacher. Overhead, in the rafters, something was flying around — not too surprising, given the fact that it was a warm sunny day and the doors were open. The children noticed the movement and were instantly interested: “Look! Up there! What is it?”Their teacher, who was clearly harried, said in a condescending tone, “It’s an insect.”
A little girl, undaunted by her teacher’s disinterest, cried, “It’s a dragonfly!”
An insect is, well, an insect. A bug. Ho-hum, at best. Eek, at worst. But a dragonfly is magical.
Not when you’re a teacher who is tasked with the duty of escorting two dozen children to the cafeteria, however. “You’ve all seen insects before. Keep moving.” (I had visions of a chain gang being prodded by the warden.)
Oh, this teacher wasn’t the only one. I remember all too well how, growing up in Alabama, my classmates and I would race to the window at the sight of a single flake of snow. “Sit down! What’s wrong with you? Haven’t you ever seen snow before?”
(Well, actually, Mrs. Tucker, anyone who lives in Alabama doesn’t see much in the way of snow; and when you’re in elementary school, a year is a mighty long time to go between flurries. Maybe we just wanted to refresh our memories.)
I teach children, too — my own. I’m sure that I have squashed a teachable moment in my time, too. And when I have, I am no better than this teacher or Mrs. Tucker. But … well, I guess I expected better from a trained professional. Isn’t the presence of trained professionals one of the reasons school is supposed to be the optimal learning environment for our children?
One lost moment at a time. That’s how it starts.