The other day, after a productive period of work in my freshman art course, I asked my high school students to put away their chalk sets and wipe down the tables. A teacher poked her head in to ask me a question while the kids went about their task of cleaning the room, so I didn’t provide my usual oversight. Still, after the bell sounded and the room was emptied of my charges, I noticed the tables were spotless and, instead of a jumbled pile of chalk sets on the back counter, someone had gone to the trouble of neatly stacking the thirty-odd sets of pastels for me.
They’re not at all like the knuckleheads in the cartoon below, which I drew to illustrate that school isn’t just about pragmatic knowledge. Yeah, I see that kind here and there, but they’re not as prevalent as you might think. After twenty three years in the classroom, I find cynicism toward our youth is generally unmerited. Sure, they’re not adults yet, and mistakes will ensue. But they’re never boring, and more often than not, they possess boundless promise!