You’ve might’ve read Robert Fulghum‘s great mini-essay entitled ‘Everything I know I learned in Kindergarten‘. It’s cute. Full of stuff I wish was true – or, that at least was the way we conducted business and/or employment and/or the way we treat each other in work as adults. What Robert neglected to mention was that order in the kindergarten was maintained by an all seeing, all wise adult teacher who’d ensure everyone played fair and did as they were supposed to at the right time, and provided the milk and cookies. Or so I believe, I didn’t go to kindergarten.
I did, however, have the pleasure yesterday of watching a young man teacher (sorry, I didn’t have my camera to get a photo of this incredibly rare sight, but I swear this is true – there was another witness) it was a young man school teacher, yes, in Wellington, and yes, with a class of primary aged kids – I know – amazingly rare – anyway, this guy cruises up with his class, explains they were going to have lunch in the park, and there were other people here and we’re going to treat this place and these people with respect, and please, sit down and enjoy your lunch. I know, I didn’t have a camera. Guess what. The kids sat down, with their teacher, and everyone ate their lunches. Not much got fed to the gulls and pigeons, so I take that to mean they all enjoyed their lunches.
And then the teacher got up and said, ‘Everyone wait here, I’ll be right back, and I can see you from where I’m going.’ I’m glued in by this stage…
The teacher went a few metres away, grabbed out one of the public bins, and brought it back for the kids to dump their trash. At this point I had to leave because I knew you wouldn’t believe me anyway. I was so completely and utterly stunned – and on so many layers. A young, male teacher – probably not more that five years out of training. In control of a class of primary age kids. In public. Everyone seemed to be having a polite, pleasant, respectful, positive learning experience, on a beautiful day, near the waterfront, in perhaps the most wonderful day of the year, in this astoundingly fabulous capital. My faith, so cracked and smeared by how kiwis seem to be treating each other these days, was shockingly restored. I felt shattered that somehow the stuff that was once normal in my childhood world seemed so foreign and exotic. I really didn’t know how to respond. I was (I still am) completely inspired. My heart sung, to be honest, that this looked like the first excellent teacher that I’d seen in a damn long time. I wonder if he’d had superb training at uni (I’m sorry, that’s totally unimaginable) or perhaps he had parents with a special gift. No matter what, I hope that young man stays in teaching forever without become a jaded, stressed-out, cynical 30-something. I hope the kids go on to become Robert Fulghums. I hope their parents thank their lucky stars that somehow fate sent them the best teacher I’ve seen in decades, and that they do everything they can to support him. Whoever the mystery teacher is (you and your class had lunch in the park on the bridge over Capital E, by the Fowler Centre) I wish you all the success from the bottom of my heart, and I hope above all hopes there’s 1,000 more just like you working in classrooms and showing such wonderful leadership across New Zealand. We need as much of this as we can get.