Class starts Monday, and I’m excited. I mean not, go out and buy a new backpack and a first day of school outfit excited, but certainly excited enough to spend Friday night doing my homework excited. And sure, I might pick up a new notebook too. I haven’t taken a class in four years, and while I’m thinking about the next part of my education, I’m glad to get my feet wet again with a little three-week course. I wonder sometimes, if given all the resources in the world and all the time to do what I would wish, if I wouldn’t just spend the rest of my days being a student.
Save for my year at home after the small one was born, a year that I still was the yearbook and senior class advisor, I’ve been working at, teaching at, or attending one school or another since, you know, I was five. That this is the longest break I’ve taken since being a student, somehow escaped me. So here I am taking notes on this book I need to read for Monday, and writing questions in the margin so I am ready for class discussion. I will be in a class with all teachers, and I wonder if that changes things altogether? Will we all be impossibly nerdy, will we all be terrible know-it-alls? Or, will that just be me?
As I pose that question, that old anxiety raises in me, on how to participate, but not say too much. That anxiety carved out of years of being the big mouth in classroom, of seeing teenage eyes roll in my direction when my hand was raised again. That anxiety must be the reason I always have so much empathy for the kids who always have their hands raised. When I eventually ask them to put their hands down, and give someone else a chance, the seventeen year old me always wants to pull them aside and tell them, ”hell yeah, participate my friend, raise your hand, be brave, have answers, move the conversation, don’t give up, those ideas will get you places”. I never do though- leaving them to their own anxieties and bugaboos to overcome.