Valentine’s Day is a TOUGH day to be a teacher. There’s a certain…shall we say…energy to the day, similar to the morning of Halloween and just shy of the last day before winter break.
It’s a mood.
So no teacher in their right mind would schedule any sort of big-deal instruction on Valentine’s Day. Certainly not in the final minutes leading up to Valentine’s Day parties, right?
But when you’ve got a group of incredibly curious learners,
And they’ve been learning big things
About the Middle Ages*
And Old English
And the chance comes
For them to interact with someone
grandpa of a student,
middle ages enthusiast,
on the MacArthur Grants
and all around pretty
smart and interesting guy)
Who’s studied all of it his whole
And that someone can chat with them
On Valentine’s Day,
At the chance.
It involved some finagling. I had to work out scheduling so my students at both schools could attend the zoom. I collected student questions to guide the conversation. I had to make sure I had someone to supervise the class since cloning is not quite yet a thing. I had to make sure all of the technology did what it was supposed to do when it was supposed to do it.
The magic hour arose. Students at both schools got themselves together after a flurry of greetings, forgotten supplies, and general post-lunch-settlings-in. Our guest was introduced by his granddaughter, who just so happens to love him to pieces.
Friends, he held us spellbound for a solid HOUR. He had taken all of the student questions and expanded them into a slide show, complete with historical maps and pictures from his own travels and experiences in Europe. Students sat rapt as he opined on Medieval literature, history, arts and architecture, culture and religion. Pencils furiously scribbled notes to record all of the new learning taking place.
This was a lesson for the books. The kids were buzzing with excitement as they left. I can’t wait for later in the week when we come back together to talk about what we’ve learned.
And who knows? Maybe one, or maybe more, of my students will decide that they, too, would like to be a Middle Ages enthusiast. Maybe one, or maybe more, of my students will realize that they, too, can choose something they love and learn about it all through their own live-long life.
A teacher can dream.
*Yes. My kids are learning about the Middle Ages. And trying their hands at Old English, and Beowulf, and Middle English, and Canterbury tales (just the Knight’s tale, friends!), and Shakespeare, and Noah Webster. All of it. Because kids deserve to wrestle with big ideas and difficult stuff. Call it another one of my “soapboxes.”