September 16, 2006
Lesson Plan #1
Last Thursday, as millions of dissatisfied, unhappy, and frustrated people scurried out of their ordinary homes and made their way to jobs they never dreamed they would have, and spent their days wondering how it was that they had become who they had become, I was walking across a canopy suspended one hundred feet above the floor of the oldest rainforest floor in the world with forty-one eighth graders. Coming from at least ten different countries, each one stumbled across the various spans at their own individual pace. Some stared straight ahead, terrified to look down, gripping the ropes on their sides, while others rotated their heads in every direction taking in the magnitude of life that grew about them as they insignificantly made their way through the foliage. Below us hundreds of different species yearned in varying degrees to touch the sun.
The day before we had hiked through the jungle so we could explore a one hundred and fifty million year old limestone cave. We are reading The Lord of the Flies in class, and one student asked if the vines hanging from the trees were what Golding refers to as creepers in the novel. Nice eye I said. We made it to the cavern. Shimmying and crawling through the cave, I watched with enthusiasm as each one made his/her way through the tiny openings. Swelling with pride, some wiping away tears, they beamed as we spent some time relaxing in an organic amphitheater carved into the cave.
After the canopy, we went rapid shooting. Floating down the river, my mind reflected on the choices I have made in my life and how they have gotten me to where I am today. Right or wrong, responsible or not, I was sitting in a boat wearing shorts and flip-flops asking my students to come up with metaphors to describe what they saw. We had begun looking at figurative language the week before. The water is as smooth as silk. A bit cliché but okay. The water is a mirror soaked in mud. Good one! The water is like pooh juice. We may have to work on that one.
I felt sorry for people forced into offices, choked by the ties that someone in society once declared meant success. Millions of people sitting on trains or worse in traffic coming from places they didn’t want to be and going to places they wanted to be less, to spend time with people they couldn’t stand. And there I was, on a beautiful Thursday morning on a river, in the rainforest, talking English with a group of thirteen year olds. I am not sure which of the choices I made got me here, but I am glad that they have.
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