12 Days into 10 Months

Theseus’ Paradox poses the question: that if there is a ship, and if this ship has every one of its boards replaced, individually, overtime, does it still remain the same ship?

I am sitting in the Team Space, during day 12 of my new job working with students, when I write this question on the board. Just as a fun thought to ponder as the nine of us wonder in and out on breaks.

One of my teammates brings in one of her students for lunch, and she gives a one word reply of “no”. Nothing else. In that second of thought and her 12 years of life, she knows that the ship has changed, and that she is not into answering these types of questions.

The student shows us the list she was making of adults who work in the school. They are labeled with either a smiley face for someone she likes as a person, from for dislike, or squiggle for no decision.

In between going over these faces, and other lunch room talk, we discuss whether what we think about the Theseus’ ship changes if we change the ship to a person. If your blood is transfused, or slowly recycled over months, you are still the same person, as these are psychical changes. But for the age old question of if people change, or if we are inherently the same person for the entirety of our lives, the ship is a good metaphor.

Someone poses the question: “Does the ship still have the same captain and crew?”, but does it matter? If the ship is a human getting older and changing over time, then does the soul remain the same?

We sit around a room pondering the human spirit and character. Yet in 17 minutes, we will walk into a screaming cafeteria, usher our classroom of middle schoolers (averaging over 25 students per classroom) down a long hallway. Stopping often for this kid yelling, and that kid pushing, and then try,to sit down for two more hours, in the same classroom, and learn.

We work with kids who are minority and low-income.

We work with passionate teachers who love what they do, but who are for one period everyday, teaching a subject they know nothing about.

We work in a community dedicated to the of bettering students.

We work with those with attendance, behavior, and coursework problems.

We work with brilliant English language learners who need extra attention in ELA.

We work with kids who not apply themselves.

Kids who are smart, but constantly disrupting class.

We work with kids who are already stuck in a system of oppression, who are on their way to drop-out, incarceration, or worse.

And we are 12 days in.

We have nearly two months of training. And when they tell us last week, that it marked the 7th day with the students, we were shocked. It already feels like a lifetime.

But as of now, it is only 12 days.

In 12 days,

I have had penciled thrown at me,

I have been told to go away,

Been cussed at in different languages,

I have had children ignore me, walk away from me, and disregard me.

But I have also had kids hug me.

I have had them use my name, and not only that, but get mad at their peers when they have not called me with respect.

I have had students apologize for throwing a pencil in my direction that was aimed at someone else.

I have had kids call to me for help.

They have said hi to me on the T and given me head nods on the way to school.

And it has only been 12 days.

And for the people who say that people are not capable of change, I invite you to come to my school and look at my students. To look at how we struggle in class day in and day out.

All these kids are capable of so much. But without support, without anyone believing in them, they will fall through the cracks. If we want to see change in the world, we have to start making it ourselves, and believe, that everyone is capable of being a better, complete person.

*The views here are entirely my own.