Difficult to return to school after a two-week break that for some odd reason moved along at a leisurely pace. I had time to read and write and play guitar (never very well) and cook and—because of the unusually mild Chicago weather—walk. I even got my bike out one day. On Tuesday, the first day back, my limbs creaked some and my mouth felt stiff when attempting to speak. I felt a little like the Tin-man. When I went downstairs to copy papers, even the photocopy machine was sluggish. There was a message in the machine’s window that said “warming up.” I think Kurt Vonnegut could have written a good short story about that. 

Ah, but after a couple of days of school bells sounding and halls flooding with the masses and then emptying in five minutes—that routine—it felt as if we’d never left and our break seemed like a distant memory. We were all rushing toward another exam at the end of the week so we could squeeze in one last exam the following week before the grand finale of all exams, the final exams. As much as I hate tests, I’m a part of that system too, especially at the end of a semester. I think much of the push is based on fear. In my case, I fear that my students won’t be prepared for their A.P. tests in May, that they won’t be ready for college, that they won’t work hard unless they’re tested. I’m too timid to buck the system, but I do hope that on the days between tests sparks of genuine learning flare out here and there and that curiosity is, if not ignited, then at least fanned. Heck, on some days, I’ll settle for not dousing what’s already lit. 
 


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