One sure way to get kids talking is to ask them about their family lives. On one occasion, I asked about the Christmas presents that they received. When one child indicated that he received a hover board, numerous others had suddenly acquired a hover board or two.
Yesterday I asked students what they did over the weekend. Please keep in mind that my school district is economically disadvantaged and replete with drugs, crime and homelessness. One student said that he played with his family, one went swimming in his outdoor pool with his sister (it’s January in Colorado) and another said that he went to Hawaii. Not to be outdone, the next student said that he spent the weekend in New York City.
For a group of kids who frequently arrive at school without breakfasts, school supplies or jackets, I could have easily and legitimately questioned the weekend trips. But in deference to discretion, I elected to say nothing.
Have I violated a rule or angered the great gods who venerate truth? No good, no learning and no values are served if I question students on trips that they can only imagine. There was no need to analyze further, especially because I always avoid embarrassing students. And maybe the greater good is served.
We’ll never know what this student believes that a weekend in Hawaii looks, feels or sounds like. At the least, we can hope that he will experience that magnificent location in his lifetime. But if he never succeeds at arriving there, a bit of fantasy is healthy for all of us, as is knowing what we want to achieve.
And in the endless desire to create and sustain a connection to my kids, maybe he’s enhanced because I accepted him at his word. He’s much too young to consider me naive or uninformed. Rather than interrogating, challenging or investigating, I appeared to believe him. Most likely, that was the greatest gift I could give. Shalom.