My first week of school back after 10 weeks away. It has been a fine time with the kids, particularly today with 8 straight classes with barely a break, but each one with a seamless flow, great attention, good music being released and the always-surprising, but sincere, “thank you’s” from the kids at the end of class. One 4th grade sweetheart who has mysteriously liked me ever since pre-school so happy to have me back and asking, "Why do you go away?"
We have a bird theme going at singing time and after reviewing some 6 lovely bird-themed rounds, I sang “The Grey Goose.” This a powerful call-and-response song from the African-American tradition about a goose who gets shot down, cooked, and brought to the table to be eaten, but “the fork couldn’t stick him and the knife couldn’t cut him.” He gets thrown in the hog pen and breaks the sow’s jawbone, taken to the sawmill and breaks the saw’s teeth out and “the last time I seen him, he was flyin’ across the big sky with a long string of goslings.”
What’s my job as a teacher? To provoke thinking— with the kids, with myself, with my colleagues. And so I asked the kids what the song was about and after listening to a few concrete and whimsical answers, called on an extraordinary first-grader who said, “It’s about a goose who is undefeatable.” I shared with the kids the context— slaves who had everything taken from them, but kept an inner Spiritual core that nothing could harm or touch. And went on to tell them that in their own life, people might try to make something beautiful inside of them seem shameful or ugly, but they should hold strong to their grey goose spirit and at the end of the matter, soar up flyin’ ‘cross the big sky, with a long string of goslings that will learn to treasure their own untouchable beautiful spirit.
That’s the way I talk to kids these days and why not?
At the end of this full and satisfying day, after playing piano for my elder friends, I came home with a feeling I haven’t had in a while—TGIF! That rhythm of working hard during the week and sense of satisfaction and release of a Friday night. Don’t have that 5-day work week feeling in my travels, so it was kind of fun to feel it again. Made a good grain salad for dinner, walked to the De Young Museum to hear live jazz and see the Georgia O-Keeffe exhibit, got back in time to see the Inside Llewyn Davis video with fresh-popped popcorn. A real Friday night!
A rare schedule-free weekend awaits and we’ll see what gifts it brings. TGIF, baby!