The Zero Mile Post marked the meeting of two railway lines and possibly the beginning of the city of Atlanta.
I say to my children, “Your willingness to learn impacts your teacher’s willingness to teach.”
It is my job as parent to teach my kids to be good students. I do not teach math. I do not teach science. I wish I did. I wish my job was to teach all the things of the world. Including the bad and especially the good.
Instead I teach my kids to be curious, to care, to be respectful. I remind them it is okay to challenge the status quo and argue a different view point. I don’t want them to think the way I think just because I do. That’s dangerous. I want them to think for themselves. At home. And at school. I need them to think. I want them to learn.
I say to my teachers, “Your willingness to teach impacts my child’s willingness to learn.”
It is my job as a parent to advocate for my teachers instead of making demands for my kids. By the time my kids leave high school, they will have had about 40 teachers. In those same years, one teacher may teach 400 kids if they teach elementary school. Or 2,000 kids if they teach high school. What my kid wants cannot supersede the needs of a teacher who serves so many.
I think of my kid’s teachers every day. I watch the teachers save lives.
Teachers save lives without carrying guns.
Teachers save lives without wearing bullet proof vests.
I want my teachers trained to use technology.
I want my teachers skilled in the art of a calligraphy pen.
I want my teachers able to speak another language even if they teach math.
I want my teachers to show my kids the world and this country and space and the world under the sea.
I want my teachers to grow a garden. I want them trained to teach that life is not only fetuses and soldiers, but flowers and earthworms. Life is a little cabbage too beautiful to eat.
I want them trained in the science of the seasons. Of planting and growing. Of harvesting and dying.
I don’t want my teachers trained in death.
They have seen dead eyes in students who don’t want to learn.
They have seen dead spirits in the students who don’t think it matters.
They have seen the stress and anxiety. They have seen drugs and alcohol.
Our teachers have seen enough of our students dying without having to worry about guns.
We have become a society that is good at killing ourselves. I’m tired of counting all the different ways.
I believe in prayer and silence. I believe in magic and science. Because of good teachers. I still think of all the teachers who saved my life. The teacher who noticed I was good at math. They teacher who noticed my writing.
Any one of my teachers would have died for me. I know this. Just as I know, this wasn’t a problem in my childhood. My biggest fear as a kid at school was standing in front of the class to read a book report.
We were trained to protect ourselves from fire and tornados. We knew how to evacuate the fields when lightning shattered the sky. But I was never afraid. I was never afraid as a student. Now my kids and my teachers are afraid.
I don’t know what to say. As much as I love my kids, their teachers shouldn’t have to die for them. That is my job. I’m the one who should protect my kids. We are learning. All of us. We are changing how we use our voice. We are training ourselves for new and quieter battles. We are learning that we will also have to be the ones to protect our teachers.
Nicki Salcedo knows the loops and the back roads of Atlanta. She is a novelist, blogger and working mom. The Zero Mile column appears on the Atlanta Loop on Wednesdays.