During the summer I made the difficult decision to take a hiatus from mentoring the Concern Debating Team. I was sick quite a bit last year and my lovely GP gently suggested that if I set myself Realistic Achievable Goals instead of attempting a bad impression of SuperWoman, I might find myself getting flattened by chest infections and laryngitis a little less often. However, none of that made me feel any less guilty or any less sad. I love the wild expansion of knowledge that occurs as we research; the heated discussions at lunchtime about how exactly to tackle the motion; the buzz of the debates themselves.
That’s not why I’m writing this though. I’m writing this blog post because one of my debaters wrote an incredible tongue-in-cheek story spine that helped me to make peace with my decision. It speaks volumes of her talent and maturity and compassion and was a timely reminder for me that kindness is a two-way street between teacher and student.
“Once upon a time there was an English teacher who had the unfortunate luck of being cursed. This curse rendered her almost entirely incapable of uttering the word ‘no’ and also had the effect of disillusioning her to believe herself capable of handling infinite projects, unhindered by the constraints of time.
And every day, the requests would bombard her in quick succession – a quick radio piece, did she have time to give her opinion? A grade on an overdue essay, because, I swear Miss, I just left it at home last week; supervising a TY project, and oh! cheers Miss, I knew you wouldn’t let us down! And every day a yes fell from her lips without any intent, just a knee-jerk reaction.
Until one day, the curse was broken. Realisation hit her like a truck; she was not obliged to say yes. She recognised that unless she could pull a Hermoine Granger and get her hands on a Time Turner, it was simply not possible to do everything she was asked to do.
And because of that, she bid her beloved and favourite-ever-of-all-time students on the debating team adieu.
And because of that, there was heartbreak, quickly succeeded by a frenzy and flurry of confusion. Where to find a replacement? Was there one? Was this the end? Oh, Shakespeare himself could not dream up a tragedy of such devastating proportions!
Until finally, their fate was accepted. The Mount Saint Michael debate team was, alas, no more. The loss was felt keenly by all four people who knew it existed.
And ever since that day the English teacher is filled with regret and sorrow, wishing she had seen that this team should obviously precede family, work and all else in her endless list of priorities.
The bitter end.
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