Special Section 1
NARRATIVES OF CHILDREN’S LIVES
“The world is not what I think, but what I live through,” said Maurice Merleau-Ponty (2002, p. xv). I am inclined to agree, murmuring those words like a prayer as I drive my two young sons to elementary school through a treacherous predawn snow. Through the darkness, I am enmeshed in morning rush-hour traffic as a hypnotizing snow pounds the windshield, completely obscuring the view between swipes. The Inuit have about a hundred words to describe different kinds of snow; I might call this type snow day or anticipate a wreck snow. Miles back, I tested the road and skidded through a stop sign. Yet, the snow does not deter the steady stream of over-caffeinated drivers clipping past at least forty miles above the legal limit, reminding me of George Carlin’s line about two types of drivers, morons and maniacs: morons drive too slow and maniacs, too fast. As the windshield wipers more or less keep time with the Christmas carols on the radio, I’m conscious of the reality of my sons’ lives reified with those of passing strangers, driving like maniacs, and think fleetingly of Hannah Arendt’s quote, “we are a combination of freedom and fate” (Torres, 1998, p. 172). I think also of phenomenological-existentialist Maxine Greene (2001), who urges individuals to a state of wide-awakeness, to “come awake to the colored, sounding, problematic world” (p. 7) in a universe in flux and open but offering no guarantees. My two young boys in the backseat, however, are caught up in a completely different kind of moment. For them, the snow is a source of delight, a gift from God, and another reason for jubilant celebration. It is the first major snow of the season. And it is Friday, the last day before Winter Break, the last school day of the year. It is also the day I’ll be chaperoning my eldest son’s sixth- grade class on what has been billed as an aesthetic field trip. A cascade of laughter and Cheerios, visible in the blinding high-beam headlights immediately behind us, fly through the air from the backseat, as my youngest proclaims, “It’s snowing.” Suddenly the Dodge pick-up that has been riding my bumper passes me, muscles within a hair’s breadth of my front bumper, and then slams on his brakes. I do the same, hold my breath, and brace for a crash, just as a few Maxine Greene books slide off the passenger seat, and my sixth-grade son says nonchalantly, “Hey, don’t talk to the kids about art today.”
"Lunch at Petra: Greene, Gargoyles and the Sixth-Grade Field Trip,"
Journal of Educational Controversy: Vol. 5
, Article 12.
Available at: http://cedar.wwu.edu/jec/vol5/iss1/12