Work stuff.

I don’t write about work on this blog because…well, because this is a blog about estate sales, thrift stores, and yard sales, and not a blog about how the current educational system is failing our children. HA! I kid! The educational system in this country is awesome and flawless. Ahem.

Sometimes something happens at work that I am so moved by, I want to tell people about it. But I can’t. Because I’m a counselor. And you can’t do that. So a lot of the stuff that happens, sad stuff, moving stuff, I have to keep to myself. But I can tell you about this. Last week, I helped lead a seminar session with a group of our seniors. ¬†At my school, seniors participate in something called Senior Seminar, where they read, study, and form opinions about several different readings that are linked in theme, and then spend an hour and a half talking about the readings in a small group setting. For some reason I have not yet been able to figure out, our kids take this really, really seriously. They can’t pass senior English until they pass the seminar, so they freak out about it. It’s not that I particularly enjoy watching our kids freak out, but academic excellence isn’t always at the top of their lists, to put it mildly, so it’s so nice to see them put their hearts and souls into something like this. This year’s readings were about light, airy topics such as the existence of evil, ¬†whether evil is innate in all of us, and whether war is inevitable in this world.

The kids were amazing. They offered considered, thoughtful responses at every turn and backed up their statements with references to the text. One of the kids used her experiences as a refugee from war-torn Sudan to talk about how war can be evil yet still necessary: the people from the north, she said, were killing people in the south, and although the rest of the world saw that this was evil, was it right for the people in the south to defend themselves against the north by killing them before they, themselves were killed? When is war justified?

Another student, a young man, used his past experiences to explain why, in his life, he had to respond to aggression with aggression: say you’re sitting in the cafeteria in lock up, he said, and someone starts messing with your food. You can’t say hey, man, I would really appreciate it if you would leave my food alone and let me eat in peace. No, he said, you have to just pick your tray up and hit him upside the head with it.

That they are able to use these life experiences to discuss and defend their opinions on such weighty matters is amazing. That they have had such life experiences is depressing. Yet they proved last week that they were able to learn from the terrible things they’ve seen…and I realized something that I should realize more often: I can learn more from them than they can ever learn from me.