In the wake of the most recent school shooting, I’ve been so proud of the young people in our country. They are showing the adults how to effect change in a peaceful manner. They are so articulate and are using their collective voice for the common good of all of our country’s citizens. They understand change may not come quickly, but they also understand how votes may affect outcomes. I like that. These kids finally understand the power of the vote. Good for them.
I turned 18 in 1976. I was a freshman in college. Our political science professor asked the class how many were registered to vote in the upcoming election. All of the students raised their hands, with one exception. I was the exception. The professor called me out. In a quiet voice I admitted I wasn’t old enough, my birthday was two days after Election Day that year. He proceeded to make fun of me and called me a baby. It turned me into a committed voter. I don’t like to talk politics but I never miss an opportunity to vote. I could have let that negative experience dampen my desire to vote. It shows how teachers have the potential to impact our lives. That professor appears occasionally on the local news as a consultant. I’m proud to say I laugh each time I see him and I blow a huge raspberry at him. I love my inner child.
Back on task. The other day I was in a local market. A young man at the cash register called my name loudly and proceeded to tell everyone within earshot how proud he was of his group’s effort on the Cleveland Torso Murderer’s project. He felt they solved the mystery. The young woman at the other register said, “Oh my God! I did the Jon-Benet Ramsey case. It was so cool.” Granted some of the customers were dumbfounded by the somewhat graphic discussion that followed. In my head, the critical voice said, “they really learned. That was several years ago and they remember details.”
The cold case squad project in my Detective Fiction class was my sneaky way to get a bunch of checked-out seniors to research…and they had to do extensive research. They didn’t even know they were researching. In order to handle the antiquated language of Edgar Allan Poe, I broke down “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” into multiple sections. There are at least a dozen witnesses in the story and they each had conflicting information. We made a grid on the board and filled in information each day, like a real case board that detectives use. There are plenty of other stories about dozens of lessons and units.
Let me tell you this, I learned so much from all of the kids who passed through my classroom. They humbled me, they challenged me, they enriched my life beyond my wildest expectations. I loved teaching and sharing my passion for literature and writing. At times like the other day, I felt good about what I’d done. Even though I’ve been retired for a couple of years, I still rehash lessons and think of better things I should have done. It’s time to let that go. I gave them all I had and I’m so glad some of them were impacted in a positive manner.