“Hurry up and wait” is the unofficial name of travel. Whether trying to flag a taxi, waiting on a poky rental car shuttle, or camping out for hours in an airport terminal to catch a connecting flight—for my impatient self even five minutes seems like an eternity.
Recently, I’ve been re-thinking how I perceive these moments, and using unavoidable travel lags to reflect and relax. I’ve been surprised at the difference it is making in my quality of life. Time doesn’t waste itself, only I can waste it. How I approach that time is where the waste comes in.
Now, transportation delays provide an opportune time to close my eyes for a few minutes and just listen to ambient sounds or to my breathing. I can stretch my back or take a few extra big exhalations. It’s paying off in how I sleep and how much energy I have to be present in meetings.
Of course, not every moment spent awaiting conveyance from Gate A to Gate B can be entirely devoted to quietude and cogitation. I still check my email and scan social media, because I still hate wasting time.
If you want to make a segment of your students feel unsafe, and another segment stop thinking critically, just let them know how you vote. That’s what happens when teachers bring capital “P” Politics into the classroom. When you do that, those students who have political views that align with yours have been given a giant incentive to agree with you and curry favor by not questioning your viewpoints. Those students who hold political views different from yours now have a strong incentive to say nothing and censor themselves to avoid retribution.
I am not arguing for an apolitical school atmosphere. That is neither possible nor conducive to raising thoughtful young citizens and voters. Having grown up in the ’70’s—when we learned that the personal is political—I take it as an article of faith that politics are everywhere. What I say, how I live my life, how I treat people—all those actions (or inactions) have lower-case “p” political implications for the world around me, students included.
So here’s my point: talk about ebola, talk about government, talk about election results, talk about Ferguson, engage your students but don’t put your finger on the scale of their thinking with capital “P” Politics. Don’t tell your students how you vote, but do tell them that you do (because you should). Don’t bash a political party. Do tell your students that politics matter (because they do).
P.S. (Kudos to a past Darrow parent for reminding me of all this and helping me crystalize the formulation of this truth.)