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Words Matter: Our Kids, Students & Insomnia during a Pandemic

2020 September 30
by Mike Vial

What is one benefit to being a teacher who is struggling to sleep? I found it: I can relate to my students who share that struggle, and many of are country’s kids  can’t rest their minds at night, too.

Yesterday, I had a student tell me they have been awake for 48 hours; and they simply wanted their brain to stop tonight; and focusing on the Crucible was near impossible for them; and they just wanted me to know.

So instead of working on the Crucible study guide, I sent them a little essay and podcast about insomnia.

We really need to recognize what this continual stress is doing to our kids, our young adults, ourselves. Our country is in collapse, but it’s an opaque fall.

We are like Salem in Act one of the Crucible: The adults are in a fiery dispute, ignoring the needs of the children who got them together, conversing in the first place. They fight over theology, authority, power. Who can yell the loudest? The logical elder, Rebecca Nurse, says, “I am too old for this” (Miller 484), and she leaves the parsonage. She will be crucified by the resolution. (Covid-19 is doing that for us; 800-1000+ people die a day.)

And in another comparison to history, we have all seen black and white photographs of breadlines and disparity from the Great Depression of 1929. But can we recognize our own depression, now captured in color?

There is nothing to fear, but fear itself. Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country. Tear down this wall…

Words matter, for they are the bricks laid that lead to policy, action, understanding; students yesterday, everywhere, needed WORDS from a teacher that recognized stress or pain, and then those words became policy. (Late work? Fine. Need a new independent assessment? Let’s do it!)

America—you are participating in a group project that democracy assigned you. One person can’t do the entire study guide. We are in this together.

It starts with words. It ends with our children and grandchildren bearing the outcomes of our decisions.

Back to room D127 I go, for day 17. Let’s be better, fellow citizens, who share this great, flawed nation. We really can be. We’ve done it before.

PS: A Greek Mythology class statistic: 92% work completion on first essay, turned in by the deadline. If they can do it, we can do it, too. Go find your own antecedent to “it”.


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