There comes a time in your life when you may need to face up to actions that you’ve taken in the past. Welcome to your school or workplace reunion. I’ve just experienced one; and didn’t I discover some powerful lessons about life!! Mine and others.
Way back at the start of my teaching career, I was working in a beautiful little school at Finch Hatton (about 40 mins west of Mackay in Nth Qld). And they had their Centenary celebrations last weekend. I was in Napier in NZ the day before, so there were quite a few flights before I managed to make it up there.
Just a delight to reconnect with so many of my former pupils. Quite a few of them spent a whole three years with me (the legacy of small schools in the bush). A very strong proportion of them have now become teachers (hmmm….).
Some of my learnings:
* Did I really play that much when I was 22 years old? It’s not that I don’t play a lot now, but heck, I must have been over the top then. If I can believe half of what I heard, I created a game out of anything and everything. It was a magic reminder for me to keep the play going.
* If someone smiles beautifully at the age of 10, they do the same at 35. If they care deeply about others in childhood, they still do in adult life. Yes, I know that we can all make the effort to change who we are. However, I suspect that there are characteristics that are embedded at a very early age (or maybe even before). Goes to show just how vital those early years are, even in the context of one’s entire lifetime.
* When people get together after a long time apart, they basically just share stories. I heard (and told) one story after another all through the time there. Narrative binds us, even when time and distance create separations.
Given the narrative scene, I was asked to lay a time capsule, and to offer a few thoughts on my time teaching in the school. For starters, I was wondering how I would announce the laying of this Capsule eg do I say “I now declare the Time Capsule closed?’ or what? Anyway, I decided on ‘I now declare this Time Capsule laid.” Seemed appropriate.
Instead of raving away about lots of things, I also chose to share just two narrative that gave a taste for my three years there. One about the kids; one about the parents.
The Kids. They were a fantastic group. Keen, great work ethic, and often very creative. One boy used to stand in line before a lesson with his top shirt button undone. After he persisted with this for a while, I eventually told him that he could leave his button undone the day that he finally grew some hair on his chest. The next day, he was again lining up, with that top button undone. And when I asked him to do it up, he pointed out the cat fur that he had taped to his chest.
Gotta love the initiative.
The Parents. They understood the worth of a local school; and for me, they were hugely supportive. I once took my class on a 3-day camp to a beautiful beach called Cape Hillsborough, in spite of the warnings of wiser heads, who pointed out that some bad storms might be imminent. However, being young / foolish / and wanting to give these kids a great time, I headed off.
And on the 2nd night, the mother and father of all storms hit. Tents flew everywhere. The lighning was a wondrous sight… until it was crackling all around us. At 3 in the morning, I called one of the parents back home, who arranged for others to immediately drive down (90 mins away) and rescue us.
And you know, not one single person, then or later, kicked my butt for it. I’m still grateful for the trust and the support.
May you celebrate all of your anniversaries with special narrative.