Monday, October 24, 2005


I've been depressed lately. Some days are worse than others, and today started as one of those days. My weekly debate session at The School felt daunting.

I felt completely empty as I began the class. I was just saying words. My brain was straining. And I sensed that the students could pick up on my emptiness, and this made me feel panicky. My mind froze. I could barely talk.

The teacher and I divided the class into two groups and had them read one paragraph from an Amnesty International report about racial profiling. Just one paragraph. That's it. But the group I was working with didn't want to do it. I tried to get them to try, but it was no use, so I just sat there numbly. I looked up at the clock. A mere ten minutes had passed. This was going to be a long hour.

Then the teacher came over to bail me out. She re-explained the task and one of the girls, K., jumped right in, reading the text clearly and with conviction. She hadn't been in the class before. She pulled the cap off of a highlighter and highlighted the good parts. Explained to her that this would be evidence for her to make a case to the government, and she instantly understood, started constructing a speech. She caught on so fast I grabbed the evidence from my previous classes, and she read that and highlighted it, and understood how it would all fit together to make a case.

Then it was time to give speeches, and she marched right up to the front of the room and cold nailed it. Natural born debater.

I asked her if she'd be into staying after school to practice, and she said yes without hesitation.

There are three other kids in the class who were into it as well, all of them girls. I asked them if they'd be willing to after school, and they said they would -- though one, T, a 17-year-old, has a four-year-old son and will need to work out childcare.

Now my spirits were lifted. I can work with this, I thought.

No comments: