Debby wrote a post here, about an older gentleman in her class, who is not quite up to speed. She’s trying to figure out what to do, as the other students in her class are treating this gentleman with contempt.
I commented that the “children” in her class were behaving like children.
I met Rose on the first day of my Political Science 210 class. 210 was global political something or other. Probably economy, with a bit of stability theory and game theory and political philosophy thrown in. The class wasn’t particularly hard, but it required 2 things – a knowledge of current events and about a half-cup of knowledge of basic political theory.
Rose was an early childhood education major. I couldn’t, for the life of me understand why Rose was taking the course. I had to take it as part of my degree, and more than that a whole group of us who were poli sci majors were taking it, so it really wasn’t bad. The prof was good, the class was interesting and there was plenty of group discussion. This was a year-long course and by November, Rose was way out of her league.
We used to play a game called “Bingo”. Some people play the game for points, we just played it for bragging rights. Every time someone said something stupid, you got to call “bingo” under your breath. Us talented poli sci majors never said anything stupid. We were always smart, in-step with modern thought, able to throw out obscure philosophies with just the right blend of insouciance and cynical wit.
Rose, on the other hand got almost nothing right. She confused countries and ethnicities, she got dates and names wrong, and she was never, ever cynical. That cheerful kindergarten teacher bit grated on our nerves, and you really did get the sense that she truly believed if the world leaders would sit down, learn to share and use their words, all the problems would be solved.
We mocked her. I’m sure she must have known, I’m sure she must have heard us, and even if she didn’t actually hear words, she would have been aware of the scornful mutterings when she spoke. Even if she didn’t hear those, you can feel a wrathful gaze, just above your collar line your neck heats up, and the flush spreads around and up across your face.
I haven’t thought about Rose for years, over a decade in fact. I have told the story of us, of my classmates and I, and the games of Bingo. I have, to use a colloquialism, dined out on the story. I tell it at gatherings, and I make her sound so terribly stupid: in my words and my tone she is unpardonably dull. I make my classmates and I sound smart and delightful and witty. I don’t think we would have used the word hip, but we were counter-cultural and no one’s fool. Oddly enough, in my telling of the story, I don’t ever use her name. She is never Rose, she is “the would be kindergarten teacher who decided to play with the poli sci kids”. I mock her ignorance and poke fun at her attempts to learn.
She kept coming to the class. I have no idea how she did on the course work, no idea if she learned anything, no idea if she remembers me.
There are many things in my life that I am not particularly proud of. Moments I look back on now, and I cringe. The depth of my mean-ness astounds and shames me. Pardon me for ever considering ignorance a crime, for ever considering hope and conviction the subject of laughter, I thought I was so very grown up, without completely understanding what it was to act like a child.
“I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted. . . But Jesus called for them, saying, “Permit the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. “Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.”
Luke 18: 14-17