It was the last day of 8th grade today. Next week is graduation rehearsal and graduation, but today was the last day of classes. All my students’ papers have been graded and handed back, accomplished after some very late nights and very early mornings for the last four or five days. On the last day, among other activities, I have the students give me suggestions for books I should read, movies and TV I should see, and music I should listen to over the summer.
Last year one of my students suggested I add a Bucket List and so it was on the board again this year. Along with ideas like “eat vanilla pudding out of a mayo jar in public” and “Start a Zombie Apocalypse,” there it was for the second year in a row—- “Go on a date with Eric Foner,” the historian I deeply respect and with whom I actually attended a summer workshop at Colombia in New York. The students began to tease me about my love for Eric Foner as soon as I began to praise the way he changed the way we look at the period of Reconstruction. My admiration for him and our “relationship” has become a running joke all year, an endless source of amusement.
I think I’m going to write Eric Foner to tell him how he has become the center of so much humor and playfulness in my class. Actually it is wonderfully refreshing and almost inspiring the way all of my students have felt the freedom and the permission to tease me about my “love” for an historian (“Does your husband know?”). There is something so touching and innocent and yes, middle school, about it all. I’m not sure Foner would really understand all the clever and witty fondness my students demonstrate. After all— he teaches graduate school.