I am a language arts teacher. I have been a language arts teacher for 16 years. I teach language arts to 8th graders, sometimes 7th graders.
Next year I have been asked to teach a section of social studies. To 6th graders. Ancient world history. Did I mention I am a language arts teacher?
This fact makes me whiny. My husband is a social studies teacher. An excellent social studies teacher. I do not do what he does.
Did I mention the thought of teaching social studies—especially ancient world history and especially to 6th graders—makes me whiny?
This is definitely not my cause for celebration this week. However, this week one of my 8th grade boys learned a lesson that shifted my perspective from whiny to open-minded.
Every year our 8th graders take a field trip to our regional vocational training center. The center provides hands-on career-related classes for high school students in a variety of fields, from building trades and fire science to early childhood education and culinary arts.
Students are invited, a few weeks ahead of time, to sign up for their top 6 choices. Then, on the day of the trip, they are given a schedule to follow, and they visit 5 different classes for approximately 20 minutes each.
This year, on the bus ride there, G started whining to me:
G: Mrs. Rush, I am signed up for cosmetology. I don’t want to do cosmetology.
Me: Then why did you select it as one of your top 6?
G: T talked me into it. He was signing up for it. I didn’t really understand what it was.
Me: I explained each option AND gave you a list with descriptions.
G: I know. I was just supposed to be in it with T.
Me: (beginning to giggle) Now T is absent and you are stuck. He got you good.
G: It’s not funny! I don’t want to do cosmetology.
Me: It will fun—an adventure. You will end up enjoying it. It will give you something to talk about.
I was certain G would not be miserable. He was not the first boy to have ended up in a similar situation on this annual field trip. I knew he would enjoy talking about it—maybe even exaggerating how miserable it was—on the bus ride home.
However, I didn’t expect this:
G: Mrs. Rush! I learned to braid hair! Watch this!
Me: I am impressed G! You are a changed man! What did you learn?
G: How to braid!
Me: Yes, clearly you learned to braid hair quite well, but what I meant was what did you learn about life from this experience?
G: I guess I shouldn’t jump to conclusions before I try something.
It turns out G is a wise young man. His words made me think again about teaching social studies next year.
Maybe, just maybe, by teaching social studies I will learn to braid.