Picasso was very opinionated, and he even had opinions on teaching, (which I found via Daring Greatly).

Each second we live is a new and unique moment of the universe, a moment that will never be again. And what do we teach our children?

We teach them that two and two make four, and that Paris is the capital of France.

When will we also teach them what they are? We should say to each of them:

Do you know what you are? You are a marvel. You are unique.

I’ve been saving it for months, in my folder of rough drafts, thinking about how to talk about teaching.

Then I read the accounts of what teachers did yesterday, in Newtown, CT, when a man shot 100 rounds of bullets and killed 28 people in an elementary school. The teachers had to save the kids. Kaitlin Roig described what she said to the kids when they were locked in a bathroom together. She is amazing. She assumed they would all die so she focused on helping them feel good about themselves in their last minutes. She told them the truth, that someone bad was on the other side of the door. She gave them a way to feel power: pray if you do that, or think happy thoughts. She gave them something to do with themselves, even if it is small. She stood children on the toilet to make room for more kids. She held them when they were crying. She told them she loved having them as her students. All while gunshots were just outside their door.

All my complaints about teachers wither in my brain when I picture Kaitlin Roig under pressure. I am humbled to see that she could do everything I would want a teacher to do, in just five minutes time.

9 replies
  1. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    I very much agree with you regarding telling the truth – ” She told them the truth, that someone bad was on the other side of the door.”
    When I’m told the truth, it’s easier to process and accept as opposed to a lie when viewed from a long term perspective and making sense. A lie doesn’t protect me and it’s a betrayal of trust. I’m glad the teacher did that for her students. She spoke and cared for them in a horrific situation with all the respect and responsibilities normally afforded only to adults. She gave them the power, as you say, to understand what was happening and for them to play a role by being quiet and composed as best they could be. Also she did that with love and compassion. She is the teacher and the parent during the time her students are with her and it looks to me based on the video she does a very good job at doing both of them.

  2. christy
    christy says:

    Penelope, once again, you work a miracle with words. Thank you.

    You are eccentric (a trait I admire), yes. You are opinionated to the Nth degree.

    But when it matters, you are more in touch with the most human pieces of humanity than most of us could ever hope to be.

    Please never stop writing.

    I live in CT, about an hour away from Newtown. The pain throughout the state is tangible.

  3. Teresa
    Teresa says:

    I love your articles penelope, they are so different than the “politically correct” articles that one is used to read, you question the status quo every time. Congratulations!.
    By the way I’ll love to share this article in facebook, There is no facebook sharing option.

  4. Mark Kenski
    Mark Kenski says:

    I just wanted to thank you also, Penelope, for using your voice to highlight a spark of human goodness–to find a way to tell a story of heroism to ease the despair so many are feeling now.

  5. CJ
    CJ says:

    We were in Newtown at the Edmond Town Hall Thursday evening where local, mostly Newtown residents and homeschool students put on a holiday play. We were supposed to be there for Friday mornings performance, that unimaginably was never to be…but we changed it to Thursday evening at the last, because my husband wanted to come along after work with his gitty childrens’ beggings. Children were performing, singing, twinkly lights up and down main street…. We were all a community so very happy. And there was so much laughter.

    In all the horrific details and painful, yet unified local vigils where info keeps coming out, what I too find so striking is the ultimate and complete bravery. In just about each new detail released as the weekend went on, the acts of protection and immediate action are helping to piece, if only with a light glue, our broken hearts back together. The principle, she tried to physically subdue him with her bare hands. The quite youthful teacher that used her body as a shield to as many of her children that she could get her arms and body around. All the staff that made repeated call after call after call while locking their students into closets and crevices, and wisely not opening file cabinet barricaded rooms to law enforcement until not one, but several police badges were slid under a door. Smart, wisdom filled decisions made on a second by mostly untrained protectors. They did everything right. We could all only wish for such action when our children are in anyone else’s care.

    When I am not feeling agony for the parents that lost their babies Friday or the families of the fallen defenders, and all the pain of the family members of the shooter as well, I am focussing on the bravery of these heros. It also really brings my heart back to the passengers of Flight 93. Yes, utterly and truly amazing.

    Love and peace to all.

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    […] If we wish to stop the madness, we must nurture each other from the beginning, all along the way, and in the end. And we must stop pretending that we can’t provide basic human rights to people because there is no money. If trillions of dollars can be spent on war, then we can create nurturing programs that offer support and health care to women and their babies. Share this:EmailShare on Tumblr Pin ItLike this:LikeBe the first to like this.   Leave a Comment […]

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