This will be my last post for a while, I promise…
I just wanted to share this photo of JT at the American cemetery in Colleville, Normandy. Again, it is about the unique perspective that one gains when one travels to the place. The place. Reflection. Experience.
When I saw this picture, it was obvious to me: this — this is teaching.
When I was preparing this trip, people invariably warned me. “You know, with students, you have to be careful.” Students will pack too much. They will be late. They won’t listen. They will get lost. They will not follow. They will complain. They will be loud. In short, expect them to be a pain. That’s normal. They are just teenagers.
I knew that my expectations could be slightly higher than these warnings suggested, because Andover teenagers are not “normal.” They are eager to learn, comparatively mature, very very smart, and good people.
Yet I did not expect what I witnessed when we got to Paris. Not only had the students packed reasonably, not only were they following directions and remaining tolerant in challenging situations, but they were always early at meeting times, always at the right meeting points, always staying in groups, always listening carefully, always respectful. They spent a lot of time carefully studying the sites we visited. They asked for more. They had interesting questions for all of our guides, who looked understandably surprised at the relevance of the comments. As a natural consequence, our guides invariably stayed with us a little longer than necessary, talked to the kids, told them more. Showed them more. I am fairly certain that their eagerness and demeanor was the reason why the MAN’s curator Mrs. Schwab spontaneously offered us to climb onto the roof of the castle at the end of our day with her. She and her staff stayed overtime that evening.
No student has gotten lost (I can’t say as much of the adults!). Everyone is taking care of him or herself remarkably well. We assign a blog post for the next 24h, and the next morning, half of the students have a post. Tonight, all of them ordered dinner in French. Their knowledge of world history has increased significantly, and we are about to dive even more deeply in time now. Onto the South!