For the past 24 hours, with a short period of sleep inserted, I have worked like crazy to grade and get back my 37 page Constitution test to the students. It was a commitment I made to them to get the test back the next day. Granted, I had lots of editorial cartoons spread throughout it and I used 14 point type, but it was still long and took a great deal of time and energy to grade.
What kept my attention through this process was the sporadic amusing misspellings, misconstrued ideas, and awkward phrasings the students had sometimes created in their work— like the first part of the Constitution being called the “Preample” and John McCain listed as one of the Supreme Court Justices.
But far and away, my 2013 favorite was a student’s description of Miranda Rights:
1. You have the right to remain silent.
2. Anything you say or do will be used against you in a court of law.
3. You have the right to an eternity.
Yes! The right to an eternity! And followed, of course by
4. If you can’t afford one, one will be provided.
I barely know where to begin. A right to an eternity? I’m not sure I’m really even able to wrap my head around this concept. (I’m sure fundamentalists would be all over this one.) This is like Miranda Rights Gone Wild! Forever!
Well, yeah. OK. We all have a right to an eternity. There are pieces of our DNA which have traveled a long, long way and will continue to travel infinitely. Being a teacher, I do indeed touch, if not eternity, at the very least the future—working in the garden and making art and did I mention the grand kids?
I like this having a right to an eternity. Especially the entitlement of “If you can’t afford one, one will be provided.” With a little mindfulness, compassion, and sensitivity, those ripples we send out should have just the right energy and soft reverberation. (And maybe with a little spelling and vocabulary work, this student’s ripples might be clearer in their intention and direction.)
I wonder if the Supreme Court had any inkling of the potential of their decision in 1966.
(As I am rereading this riff, I am reminded that maybe a good night’s sleep might be in order.)