The cynical side of me, the part that burned out on teaching because it was like trying to steer parked cars, thinks I shouldn’t give much thought to it. They will be only so many living, teen-aged stumps sitting out there a week from today. Not a one will hear a word. It doesn’t matter what I tell them, because I’m an old grown-up offering the same old platitudes and bromides as their grandparents. Boring.
But the other part of me remembers the one student from a class of stumps who, years later, would come back to tell me she had taken to heart my encouragements, he had been driven by my enthusiasm, or remembered how I used humor to create images of one biological principle or another that were indelible. And now, he was a biology teacher; she was a conservationist.
What I have to remember is that, out of a hundred students, if just one life changes for the better–whether I ever know it or not–my hour at Patrick Henry High School with honors and advanced 10th, 11th, and 12th graders next Tuesday will not have been in vain.
But all of this, of course, begs the question: what do you have to offer, Fred? And how will you frame whatever it is you do to an audience so very young? I think I would have been awake anyway during the wee hours last night; but as it was, this is what I mulled over in the dark.
I’m pleased to have been invited, and I have no doubt that filling this short span of time will have seemed very easy looking back on it. I just don’t know how to best use their time talking about blogging, journaling, nature and the environment, being a rural Virginian, an Appalachian, a budding writer, a responsible Earth-keeper. But next Wednesday, I’ll be able to tell you how it went.