Monday, December 5, 2016

Because Doing the Right Thing Hurts Sometimes #NCTE16

Jason's latest GHOST, which won
 NCTE's Charlotte Huck award
 for fiction!
So I am still processing some of the things I heard at NCTE. One of them was a fish story, as told by Jason Reynolds. It goes something like this: One day Jason's eccentric high school teacher brought in an expensive exotic fish for the classroom aquarium. He told the kids, "you can feed the fish, but whatever happens, do not TOUCH the fish. Ever." The teacher went on to say that the principal knew about the fish rules and would back him up should anyone feel inclined to test the rule. Then one day, much later in the year, this teacher scooped the fish out of the tank and dumped it on the floor. All the kids stood around in horror as the fish thrashed about, obviously dying. But they had been told "do not touch the fish." Finally a couple of girls DID touch the fish and returned it to its aquarium. The teacher said, "go to the office. You touched the fish." And this was his way of teaching them that doing the right thing hurts sometimes. There are consequences for our actions, even if they are right. But that doesn't mean you don't do the right thing.

Pretty powerful, right? We need more teachers like that. Thank you, Jason, for sharing the story! (Jason told the story much better than I have... any mistakes my own.)

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