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Zero Amount of Learning

Yesterday at the Fine Arts Center, no learning happened.

Maybe it did in Visual Arts. Perhaps the Music department imparted information to young minds. But in the black box theatre- there was nothing.

We were not learning on purpose. It was their Holiday Party. The students exchanged Secret Santa gifts, ate cupcakes in the shop. They played a PG version of Cards Against Humanity, which is still probably enough to get its own chapter in the on going saga called, Why Davey Got Fired.

Then CeCe, the design and production teacher, turned down the lights and fired up the projector. They were watching a movie. Peter Pan Goes Wrong. It’s a production by the Mischief Theatre Company in which, you guessed it, a production of Peter Pan goes horribly awry. The BBC filmed it before a live studio audience.

Gen X’er that I am, I decided not to participate. Having the students distracted by the movie would give me time to work on my own projects, which is probably yet another chapter in Why Davey Got Fired.

So during the morning class I sat with my nose buried in my computer. I worked on a blog, wrote my final exam for Furman, and then at 11 the students left for the day.

The next Holiday Party was the 1:30 class. I figured I would grab a cupcake and continue my work.

But then something wonderful happened.

Uninterested in what I was writing, I began to watch the movie. Peter Pan and the children were attempting to fly with catastrophically funny results. And while that was fine, what really interested me were my students. I spent the last thirty minutes of the film watching them.

They were all sitting close to each other. Erupting in laughter. Faces beaming. One of my students was in an ugly Christmas sweater with a matching scarf and hat. Her and her boyfriend held hands in the front row, smiling with every inch of their bodies. A set of twin sisters sat next to each other, sharing a plate of Flaming Hot Cheetos.

I wondered if they knew what a magical day this was. I wondered if they knew that they were going to look back on this in twenty years and realize how happy they were. I hoped that they would hold on to a fraction of this feeling and carry it with them through out their lives.

There’s an incredible scene in the second season of Fleabag. The main character is having a drink with an older woman at a bar. She makes a statement about how she hates people, and the older woman stops her. “Don’t say that,” she said, or something really similar. “People are all we’ve got.”

I thought about that line as I watched my students. I never planned on being back in Greenville. Or teaching at a high school, even one for super talented kids, even part time. But these young weirdos are my people. They’re what I’ve got. And they all mean so much to me. Seeing them so happy filled me with more holiday cheer than I’ve had in quite some time.

So while the students might not have learned anything, I certainly did.

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