A friend recently posted a delightful picture of her graduate son, complete with traditional gown, cap and diploma. Alongside beaming parents, the shot also captures the “Best Cooperative Learner Award” held proudly aloft. Beneath the photo are the following words: Paul is officially done with PreK and off to Kindergarten in the fall. This could be harmless fun, except it isn’t. I mean, where did they think Paul was going in September?
And where did the years go, Paulie? Needless to say, I am overjoyed for him. My most visceral, prior recollection was pungent and cabbagey. I conjure a memory of him flicking carrots from a spoon in the vague direction of a grateful, if slightly disappointed dog. Through that apple-covered face, I failed to recognise that this cherub was better than other children his age. Giddy with enthusiasm at news of his graduation, I bought Four Year-Olds Most Likely to Succeed. Oddly enough, he’s not even listed.
For me, blogging is an act of reflection, so here’s the reflective bit. I think I must have been an average four year-old. I mean, I haven’t changed much. That deficiency makes sense now and I have an admission to make. I think about cockroaches more than is normal or probably healthy. And it’s almost always in the context of schools. No matter how things change, have you ever noticed how cockroaches, like certain school traditions, tend to defy these changes? They survive in a world that is utterly transformed from the one in which they first evolved, yet they remain, whether we need them or not.
With news of a transformed Paul fresh in my mind, however, I’ve been rethinking cockroaches. Maybe I am wrong about them, too. I read a recent study on roaches and discovered that, among other things, they are actually highly social creatures who do not like to be left alone and who suffer ill health when isolated. They are also socially bonded, egalitarian creatures who reject the concept of hierarchy and the fallacy of superiority over their fellow specimen. It actually physically hurts them. Think about that. Because these things hurt students and teachers, too.
This has all been a tough learning curve for me, if I am honest. Paulie is better than his peers and cockroaches have evolved faster than anachronistic school traditions.
Be more cockroach.