Years ago I learned and taught alongside a close-knit group of students that became like family to me. In all, the moments before, and years since, I’ve never quite had the same almost magical connection with young people.
As a teacher-researcher, I am aware there are many things I will never be-able to recreate with other young people that lived so beautifully with these kids. I was much younger. I was with these young people only briefly, we all new this, filling a replacement contract, for only four life changing months.
I think about the brevity of our time together, like we each, the students and I, somehow deliberately sucked the marrow of learning from one another as if we understood we might never be about to find this sacred space again. And honestly. I don’t think we ever did. Any of us.
They are my ‘that group’ group. My kids. My kids by heart.
The late night calls and mid-day check ins. Coffee house conversations.
They have never paused. All these years hence.
Years and years later and they still push my thinking. Weave their way into the stories I share, weave their way into how I share, challenge my pedagogy, help me to think better, more, and differently with what being an educator ought to be, for me. Every. Every. Day.
All these years later, and they continue to check in. Each of them.
Recently, R emailed and checked in, like she randomly does. I checked-in replied, then asked if I might share most of her note to me and my reply to her here.
My kids by heart
(Shared with permission)
Date: March 25, 2018 at 2:48:55 AM MST
To: Cori Saas
Subject: Check in
Here’s a university struggle piece:
Be creative he said
I laughed at the thought
I laughed because
I couldn’t remember the last time I was
allowed to express my creativity
I love science, the methodology that lets me to perceive
Lets me understand and view the world differently
When I see a tree, I don’t just see a tree
I see the molecules, the chemical reactions
Down to the particles and
I see it’s place in the system
The impact on the whole
How what may just seem like a
tree is a whole lot more to the community
This understanding excited me
Pieces fit together like a puzzle
But where is the creativity?
Albert Einstein once said
“Imagination is more important
than knowledge. For knowledge is
limited, whereas imagination
embraces the entire world,
stimulating progress, giving birth
But that’s not the science I know
The lab reports
-0.5 because the text isn’t
-2 because you messed up one significant figure out of 50
And better not even think about misplacing a table heading
Stifled by formatting
Wasting hours for nothing
Is this science?
Is it preparation for what awaits us?
Or is it just a strange system of torture?
It’s rough cause I don’t have time to edit my work anymore but I also
haven’t checked in in awhile.
I miss you
I’d like to say that I got your message in the morning. But you know that’s not so. You know I am awake. My own twitchiness at trying to settle things unjustifiable deep within my bones.
I kinda like that the need to justify doesn’t settle. For either of us.
Oh R, the degree journey: it really will mean something! The fidelity, the blandness, the rigger of this work. My climber of walls, the view from this rim comes with a deep sense of gratitude for those ropes, you know. And I am not expanding further. I know that you know. I know that you have known through all those backpacking adventures that were also filled with moments of dreaming about sciences. I know you know.
This gruellingly dull climb….It means something now though too.
Do you remember that last week we had together, all those years ago? When you came in to chat, just us. We sat on the tops of desks and you shared deeply of your experiences. Letting them come to sit there with us. I remember your strength in speaking them, in making them visible.
I think about how you have written and written and hiked and dashed and returned, how you have been broken and then found such healing. You. You did this. You. Your power, your words. Your body. Your wisdom. Your kindness. Your truths. Your way. Your time.
R, your very life is light creative
I hiked in the mountains this morning, among rock and pine and always that light we know.
That light you know.
Hike my girl. Hike.
Love you always.