I described a teacher to those middle-schoolers, and they saw what I saw, and what a beautiful sight, the kind that doesn’t quite toe the line, who knows he or she might not be pleasing the powers, but that truth and love and a clear conscience must come first, and the gift, the one they carry burning in a holy bowl within, must be passed on to whomever would receive it, the vertically- and especially the horizontally-aligned standards be damned! Young people must be nurtured, and sparked, discovered, led forth, reminded of their freedom and their power, introduced to the very thing that could be so explosive, the opposite of “classroom management,” each other.
I went on about that “each other,” each one being unique and themselves, but also in flux, looking around and asking, “That person, do I want to be sort of like that? Ew, that one, could I, oh, oh, am I sort of like that?” So that each person is in effect formed by the presence of others, and how we choose to be shaped by that. And we have the power to shape, and form, and even normalize, and dull sharp edges, but that we all ought to be careful of one another’s souls, not to damage them in the process of trying to make others be a certain way in order to make our own lives more pleasant.
As I described this teacher, their eyes glowed with understanding. The one I guess I was sort of speaking especially to, though not having planned that in advance, nodded and said, “like Mr. N——,” (who teaches a few doors down) and another, “like The Dead Poet’s Society.”