edu180atl: rebecca kaye 9.23.11
This morning, I had breakfast with one of my neighbors. Previously, we had interacted only via e-mail and Facebook. My introverted self had to muster a bit of courage to click “Send” on the invite. This guy can be curmudgeonly, and he communicates like a Yankee. He’s been known to bruise feelings a bit among the neighborhood parents because of his pesky habit of openly stating truths they find unflattering—one of the perils of Yankee-Southern culture clash.
I didn’t know what to expect.
I spend a great deal of time at work talking with disgruntled people, so I figured that, worst-case scenario, it’d be like any other work day. I was a little afraid, though.
As it turns out, I needn’t have worried. My breakfast companion was delightful, gentle and among the most realistic and thoughtful parents I’ve ever met. Unlike many in our ‘hood, he understands that self-reliance is among the most important skills parents can teach their children, if they ever want their kids to move out of their basements, at least.
A simple cup of coffee built a connection for me to a person whose reputation, much like that of our neighborhood high school, was based primarily on fallacies and unfair assumptions. Connection is perhaps the most powerful tool we have as educators… and as human beings.
My reflections on the meal brought to mind a favorite poem and some preliminary ideas about why my neighbors fear this parent. Perhaps it’s because fear is our natural response to coming closer to the truth.
Rebecca Kaye is a recovering middle school teacher, policy director for Atlanta Public Schools, a militant ITPer and mama to Elliott, age 2.