Something that amuses and confuses me in the classroom is the age at which children begin telling secrets. Do we learn about secrets from other kids or from our parents and other adult authority figures? This is another one of those concepts to which I have addressed some thought, pondering why we tell secrets and why we keep them.

The dictionary I use most defines a secret as something that is concealed or hidden; the second definition posits secret as a mystery. What’s most interesting to me is that something labeled a secret automatically assumes the character of something that is or will be of value.

At no time do I ever ask students to reveal the secrets they tell each other. In addition to their being none of my concern, I feel very strongly about our need to keep secrets, sometimes to the general public and sometimes to those who are within our immediate spheres.

If that seems a surprise after my discourses on honesty, I don’t believe that keeping secrets is dishonest. In those cases where the information has to do with things or places or people in our pasts, my feeling is that keeping those entities as secrets represents an advantage to those who might have known about them. The other reality is that if you refrain from telling secrets, you don’t need to remember to whom you’ve told them and to whom that information remains unknown.

Is it possible that those I like and love will think less of me when they know my secrets? While I suppose it’s possible, that’s really not my rationale. It’s mostly a question of need to know or the amount that any item of secret will improve or enhance the person(s) to whom I disclose it. Most of my secrets are trivial or inconsequential, again reinforcing my refusal to disclose them on the basis of need.

But if the secrets are more substantial, you’ll simply need to respect my need to maintain them as unrevealed. If that makes me mysterious, so be it. If it causes you to want to know me better, that’s okay too. Just know that some of it will always remain a secret. Shalom.

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