Put the shoe on the other foot

I haven't worn shoes since the graduation on June 21st, which means I've gotten through the summer without a wake or a wedding.

My feet share the story of summer--they're currently encrusted with the oozy remains of an ill-advised tromp through poison ivy.The tops are brown from melanin, the bottoms brown from dirt. You could make a decent baseball mitt from the leather that lines my soles.

I feel the world differently than I would if I spent my days in shoes. Not saying any better or worse, just different. But once we establish that there is a difference, then we can talk about values.

The kids who live their lives shodless  live a different life than those who live with their shoelaces lashed on tight.

While we dither on about content and standards, the climate you set in your classroom may have profound effects on the way a child see the world, effects that last long after a child has forgotten Pythagoras' theorem.

I'm not saying a child should go barefoot in your classroom. I am saying that before you bind her feet into shoes, you'd better have a better reason than because that's the way it's always been done (a silly reason), or for health (a false reason), or because you said so (abuse of power), or because it's a school rule (an arbitrary reason).

School starts this week for many of us here in New Jersey. Teachers will spend hours droning on about rules. Most high school kids will have less than 5 hours sleep the night before the first day of school and they know all the rules anyway.It's an easy day to waste.

Shake them up a bit. Tell the kids they're required to take off their shoes. Or that they must put their right shoe on their left foot. Or that they must put their socks over their shoes.

Let them tell you why they'd rather not.

(Good Lord, I'm speaking metaphorically....)
The foot in the photo is mine, the critter is a cabbagehead jelly.

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