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  • Devin O'Donnell

Finding Peace in the Absurdity of Teaching

"And behold, we looked and saw the ridiculousness that is done under the sun: wind storms threaten but do not come; PG&E says it will cut power today but cuts it tomorrow; the septic fills up but can't be pumped without electricity. All things are full of labor, man cannot express it..."

As you know, we lost some time this week. Under the sun, it's tempting to see this as an exercise in futility, especially knowing that power may or may not have gone off during the time we were gone. But without power, our septic system would overflow, and I will not risk such a disaster under any odds, either for the school or for the others who share our facility. Regardless of the justifications, I want to exhort us to look at this properly and to respond in the right way practically. 

At certain times of the year in certain parts of the country, classical Christian schools are faced with a similar kind of situation wherein the ability to hold classes and have normal school days is suddenly and irrevocably interrupted. The phenomenon is called a "snow day." Some of you have heard of this or experienced it first hand. In such a situation, it's helpful to consider Solomon's wisdom: "What is crooked cannot be made straight, And what is lacking cannot be numbered" (Ecc. 1:15). What should we do? Solomon's conclusion is simple: 

Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil.

Notice Solomon does not say, "For God will bring every work in judgement and count them all up." Nor does he say, "God will judge you according to how many things you get done." Ultimately, God judges qualitatively, whether things are "good or evil." What does this mean for us? 

When we are faced with losing time in our schedules, we are tempted to want to make it up by cramming in whatever we had planned into the fewer time slots that we have available. But this not the answer. The answer is to move on. It means we must reevaluate what is most important, cut some things out, and keep the things that we know are most essential. In other words, don't look at this weekend as a way to get even on the time you lost in class. Do not look at this weekend or next weekend or the weekend after as a way to pile up the homework that was supposed to be classwork. Just prioritize what matters, cut things out, and move on. (We shouldn't be giving homework on the weekend anyway, as per our Handbook.) 


My point here is ultimately pastoral. I want to state this clearly for teachers, because I want you to be released from the tyranny of chronos. I want you to be released from being anxious and worried about many things when only one thing is needed. Receive this time well. It is a welcome blessing in a life that can be absurd under the sun. So take time for your souls, and remember that school ought to be schole: we are aiming at Kairos, the "whens" of time and making the most with what time we have.


Here are the staff meeting agenda

The Gorgan. Carlos Museum, Emory University

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