It is such a beautiful day today. An absolutely beautiful Spring day. Not too hot. Not too cold. Warm enough for some to wear shorts and sandals. And for others, berets and light sweaters. In other words, it is a perfect Spring day. And yet, despite all this, some terrible things have happened lately. The Boston Bombing. Elvis. And Ricin. And now this other guy, whom they suspect is the Ricin guy. As for the younger Bomber, who was moved to a prison, — he has investigators looking for his computer. He had to have had a computer. What 19 year old doesn’t today?
Because I have spent so much time around others his age as a Substitute teacher I have seen a good cross-section of others who are like him. Wholesome high schoolers who are smart and who routinely think about their roots. Arabs don’t like Israelis, and Israelis don’t like Arabs. I remember my students in Arabic were mostly of Arabian descent, Palestinians included. They used to draw cartoons of blowing up Israel and laughing, share their work with each other. They didn’t seem dangerous. They seemed like typical adolescents, joking around. I didn’t construe the cartoon as being threatening to us Americans. Nothing unhealthy or that needed to be reported. They were so open about it. If they were really dangerous, they wouldn’t act so casual … perhaps.
We just don’t know apparently what makes these people tic. To be able to live a double life as these two brothers have — I mean going back to the dorm, attending classes, and partying — who was he then? Was he aware of what he had done? How could he possibly switch so easily from Terrorist to ordinary student?
That’s what I would like to know.
Adolescents are a really interesting group. And I have spent a number of years interacting with them. The are really smart. And fast. Just like lightning. They are starting to be self-conscious of themselves. They groom themselves and the girls apply make-up and spend a lot of time doing their hair. They are intellectual darts. And so much fun.
Okay. Now imagine an adolescent (which means sexually developed) who is confined to a wheelchair and strapped to that to allow him to sit-up which he couldn’t do on his own. Your job is to teach him. Introduce him to something stimulating. Something that will evoke a response.
I looked at him carefully, evaluated his skills, and shortly after that began by gently blowing on his face. This made him smile. And he would turn his head from side to side while I acted like a fan. Indefinitely! As long as I was blowing, he was smiling. I had succeeded as a teacher in reaching a student.
Those were the kind of students I worked with.
From the most fragile to the highly gifted. Somewhere in there. In the mind of an adolescent.