18 September 2012

the justice of beautiful conversations


This morning, Ada Brooks had a hard time with her Latin translations.  They were just a bit harder than they have been, and there were more of them than there have been, and I was out of town last Thursday-Sunday, etc.

So, by the time she got to this sentence, she wasn't feeling chipper, but, rather, in the Forster Family vernacular, she was done.

Natura pulchra est, non iuesta.

Nature is beautiful, not just.

She marched into where I was headquartered, helping Eason with his handwriting.

"I don't think I've translated this correctly.  I'm having trouble with all of them, Mama.  They are just especially hard today. Ugggghhhhh."   (Foot stomp action as well). 

"Okay - dahlin - let me take a look."

I looked, and discovered that while she has not mastered the turning of halting first-try translations into flowing prose, she had not, in fact, made many mistakes.

"No, sweetheart - you got that one right - Nature is beautiful, not just."

AB:  "Well, that's not true.  How is nature unjust?  How can nature even be just or unjust?  And even if it can be, it seems pretty just to me."

I sympathized, but offered her the history of the thought that Nature is indiscriminate and afflicts different places and people with different horrific things without care for what she does.  Tornadoes, Hurricanes, Disabilities, Predators/Prey.  (Brief conversation on personification of Nature....)

"All seems quite just to me - Might not be pleasant, but it's not unjust.  None of us deserves any of that stuff, but we don't deserve for it not to happen either."

We went like this, friendly, but round and round for a bit.  I was torn.  I have a bit of satisfaction at her detached, matter-of-fact, whineless dealings with the sadnesses of the world and then a bit of concern for the lack of sympathy and poetry in her soul.

I also find myself wondering, here on my lunch break while all the kids are occupied, at what the having of all these conversations, the following of the rabbit trails, is really doing for these children.

On the one hand, of course, we want to think that this is awesome.  Children benefit from being heard; they need to be free to discuss, debate, disagree.  Eight-year-old philosophy may not beneficial to the hearer, but it's a valuable process for the one working out her ideas of the world.  Isn't it nice that I'm staying home from any potential careers to be the Sounding Board, be the Trusted Adviser, the Philosopher Matriarch, the Unconditionally Interested. 


But, today I'm wondering (perhaps because she made me especially tired) if it might be valuable for someone not to listen.  For someone to shut her down.  For no one to have time to have these inane and silly conversations.  Just translate the Latin and hush up.  Do your math; we don't need to talk about all the theory. Complete your handwriting.  Be quiet. 

The fact is, in a classroom, no one has time to go there with every whim.  Or even most whims.  But Mama does.   And Mama actually cares what's going on in her little brain.  Not only cares, but delights in it.
I think it's so nifty how people in general view things - so you can only imagine how nifty I find the mind-workings of the three people who I conceived, carried, delivered and am raising. 

Good teachers are this way as well; however, again, there just isn't time.  I cannot listen to all of the thoughts of the children I teach in my eight-person classrooms.  I cannot imagine what it must be like for people with twenty-eight students.  

The Forster progeny have my undivided attention.  And, as mentioned above, I actually find all of their thought processes cool.

I wonder how to keep them feeling loved, safe, secure, and intellectually curious without turning out little narcissists who think that all of their own thought processes are really cool?   Because, they aren't that cool.  They're just people; almost certainly, they'll not one day have a biographer.  And that's good - plain people are good - not just fine, but really quite good.  But, plain people don't have anyone being excited with them about all of their objections to various philosophical view points put forth in elementary Latin texts.

Maybe I'll just start telling them, just before I engage, "I care what you think.  But very few other people ever will." 

I'm not going to stop - don't know that I could - being interested, engaged, listening, loving it all, but, I do wonder, is it, in the end, creating yet another unrealistic bubble?

First world problems. 

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