Where have all the flowers gone? That allusion implies how long I’ve been in the classroom
Came here to Hope College in 1971. Thought I’d stay maybe three or four years. Wednesday, April 23, thirty-seven years later, I walked out of my last class
Felt a little like Icarus in that Bruegel painting. Not that I plunged to my death. But I sure plunged. And all around me were students and teachers heading to their classes or meetings or study dates or out to lie in the first sunshine of spring, many of the students chattering away on their cell phones. I looked at the buildings where I got to be with my students and the one where I had my office, then walked to the car and drove home.
The scary thing about having a teaching life close down is that you have so little to measure it by. You hope that you did a lot more good than harm. And yet realizing even one harmful result could ignite a forest fire in your mind burning away any hopes for good memories that were trying to sprout, thrive, and offer some comforting shade.
So, you go home. When you walk in the door, Charlie the dog runs to greet you. A bit later Julie comes home from real work. You sit with her on the couch, turn on ESPN, take her hand, and feel all of what lies ahead stretching out there somewhere.