I’ve been seeing a lot of former students lately. Occasionally where there’s something going on at the high school level groups of kids will return to school to come visit. They don’t know this, but I relish those moments. Seeing their teenage faces, hearing about their successes in high school, these things make me happy. It’s always so funny to watch my current class gasp in wonder when a group of teenagers walks in the door. Of course, they are overjoyed at the interruption in the middle of math class. But I wonder if they see themselves in those teenagers, it won’t be so many years before they grow up too. Their changes will by physical (getting taller, deeper voices, teenage acne) and emotional (first loves, the uncertainty of choosing a college, emerging into the job world).
Of course when I hear of students from my first class heading off to college I start to feel old. Which is no comparison to teachers I’ve worked with who have taught a student and then that student’s child! But still. However, even though I continue to age, I’m not growing up. You see I’m growing down. Working in the education field gives you the distinct pleasure of getting to stay connected to your inner child. For example, the other day I was testing out a robot and rolled it into a fellow teachers classroom in the middle of a lesson. It was childish. We all had a good laugh. Seeing life through each new generation’s eyes keeps us connected to some fundamental truths about life. Good instruction is important, but so is having fun and taking time to play.
My former students will have to grow up, face the harsh realities of adulthood some day. I’ve been there and done that. I may be getting older, but you can’t make me grow up.