A gentle reminder ...

The goal of this blog initially was for Mr. Mc to show his students and friends what he doing while in Pennsylvania and DC in 2011. Now it's being used as a place for him, travelling colleagues and former students to discuss edumacation and history related "stuff" as well as ... well, anything which pops into his head. Mr. Mc would never knowingly embarrass either the school he loves or the family he is devoted to. By joining in the discussion, he expects the same of you.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Speak only when you can improve upon the silence.

Someone asked me the other day why I hadn't blogged since mid-December.

It is not like me to be silent. My father once asked if I had been vaccinated with a phonograph needle. It was a fair question.

The reality is that I thought about posting on several occasions, but didn't feel like I had anything valuable to say. Yes, I know, 'that has not stopped you before', you say.

Those of you who know me know that it is not in my nature to remain silent. I have also been processing the lesson taught by my Ford's Theater Teaching Artist the week before holiday break. I have thoughts I want to express; ideas I want to give life to.

But I needed to stay silent.

The reason for my reticence was the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary.

The reality for me is two-fold. While the school is half a country away, the tragedy resonated with me for some reason. I haven't spoken to anyone about this really, but the shooting comes to mind at least half a dozen times a day.

To be honest, one of the split second thoughts before I recognized Senator Moran yesterday was this idea of a "stranger" in my school.

There are obvious reasons why Sandy Hook connects and the questions they raise:
  • I have a grandaughter that age.
    • How agonizing it must be for those parents and grandparents. I can't even imagine.
  • The shooting occurred in a school, my place of business.
    • How could a child ever feel safe in what is supposed to be a safe place after surviving something like this? Again, I can't even imagine.
  • Teachers were executed in the protection of their children.
    • I can remember reconciling myself to the idea of the necessity of self-sacrifice when I was a soldier...I never imagined that as a teacher that same reconciliation would be required.
The other reality is in my anger to the reaction to Sandy Hook.

It has been less than a month since Sandy Hook and we have moved on. The US has had a fiscal cliff and any number of national issues to deal with. In our daily lives, we soldiered on through the holidays while survivors of the tragedy would spend their Christmas and Hanukkah and winter break mourning and in anguish.

Some of my anger is self-directed. How quickly I let the tyranny of the urgent take control. I would try and let what ever bright shiny object in the viewfinder take priority, but the images of Sandy Hook snuck back in. I still don't know what to do with them other than acknowledge that they are there and remain open to what I'm supposed to take from it. At this point, my most cogent thought is, "I don't know". I'm taking refuge in the end of a Milton sonnet. "They also serve who only stand and wait." Patience isn't my strong suit, but I will wait.

Some of my anger comes from the treacle coming out of the television. The fact that 24/7 news didn't wait for their children's body to be identified before the blistering attacks came from both sides. Those poor children and heroic educators literally became bullet points in agendas. I am a news junky and I felt dirty and ashamed watching the coverage and reaction.

It has been less than a month and we have moved on.

It  has been less than a month and we are weary of the name calling and the blame assessing.

There is a Quaker phrase that you should only speak when you can improve on the silence. There is nothing right now that I can say can improve on silence. Quite honestly, there is little the nation can do to improve on the silence of Sandy Hook.

I'm not ready.

We aren't ready.

I give this explanation not for any other reason than someone asked why I hadn't written and I thought it was a fair question. I will be adding more posts in the future about speechifying and Ford's Theater and my life as a teacher. For better or worse, this blog is how I process and make sense of my world and I need it far more than anyone needs my insights and impressions.

Just know that in the back of my mind, Sandy Hook has taken residence. I'm not sure where it will take me. I'll let you know when I know.

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