Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
From my bedroom window, I can see a church. A simple brown stone building around four stories high, I also pass it when I walk my dog.
I should say used to. More specifically, almost used to.
They’re tearing it down – dismantling it really.
I didn’t notice until a few days after the work began. I awoke one morning, looked out my window and couldn’t figure out why my eyes were making it seem as though some monster had taken a few bites out of the roof and back wall of the church while I slept.
I’m uncertain as to why, but they’re taking the church apart stone-by-stone. Each morning, men in a cherry picker are chiseling away at these weathered bricks and dropping them to the ground. I assume the building is too close to power lines or other buildings to simply be knocked down.
Two weeks ago, I was walking with some friends past the half-eaten building and they got nostalgic, an emotion made all the more unbelievable considering they were from another state and had never seen the building before.
“I know, but it’s a church, and it’s sad,” they said when I pointed out the incongruity of their emotions.
In their minds, there was something inherently melancholy about tearing down a church.
For the more than a year I’ve lived in this neighborhood, I’ve passed the structure and thought how cool it would be as a restaurant/coffee shop or a brew and view. For me, the ground was unconsecrated long ago.
It’s worth a look. And though I don’t know that all 20 skills are essential, if a teacher has all 20 he could do some pretty sweet educational damage.
The tab is still open in my browser. I’ve not yet bookmarked it. I’ve almost bookmarked it a few times, but then pulled back.
They’re valuable, but not necessarily delicious.
I don’t want to consecrate the list as something I could conceivably trot out during keynote or conference presentations to welcome new teachers into the 21st century teaching fold.
They’re worthwhile today, but I don’t want to hold on to them so long that I stop questioning them the way some teachers invest total faith in overhead projectors or red pens.
Lists like that can quickly become commandments. In an uncertain educational world, commandments are alluring. They give the appearance of an easy path to success. Administrators can tick off this skill or that during and observation and bestow highly-qualified status as though simply throwing all the ingredients together gives you a satisfying meal.
Perhaps that’s why the guys in the cherry picker are taking the church together stone-by-stone. When you construct something and you call it holy and you consecrate it, it’s difficult to think of it as anything but holy. Even after it’s no longer consecrated, an idea, like a building is easy to worship and even easier to mourn.