Call for sentences – fitting in what’s important

Welcome to this week’s call for sentences, which will be collected right here in the comments section of this post. For this week only, the comments on my blog will be moderated so the sentences will be kept secret until I  collate and publish them this coming Sunday, December (holy moly it’s December!) 6th.

December 6th is a significant date for me. It is on that date, exactly 20 years ago, that a man went into a classroom at the Ecole Polytechnique, the engineering school affiliated with L’Universite de Montreal and shot 28 people. He killed 14 women, injured 10 more women and 4 men. He systematically separated the women from the men to kill them. He finished the evening by killing himself. We know why he did it. He did it because he was angry at the women for studying engineering. He called it an anti-feminist protest.

This past summer a man went into a fitness centre in Pennsylvania and killed 3 women before killing himself. Again, we know that this was a man who was angry with women.

I wasn’t expecting to write about Dec. 6, there is something about writing out that date that seems almost sacred, maybe it affects me more because I was a university student at a Montreal university myself at the time. I remember feeling very very vulnerable.

Now I teach children who are about to start their post-secondary lives and I see the way that the girls are treated by many of the boys, the way that the music that plays in the hallways talks about girls, the ways that boys use words about women and their body parts to call each other out – to make each other feel weak and impotent.

I teach Art, Ethics, Contemporary World Issues, History of Quebec and Canada, and Leadership. There is so much for me to orchestrate in getting the curriculum to my students in the short time we have together but I know that the curriculum per se is not the most important work I do with them. More importantly I want to make sure I teach them an understanding of the world they live in, how it’s not cool to hate women (or Native people, or Jewish people, or any other kind of person) and how to realize that sometimes (most of the time) its not even something we are aware of doing.

My students also have their own individual needs, individual stories that need attending to . That absolutely need attending to before learning can happen. (as do all students that we all teach, in every classroom) No money, abuse, illness, sadness, fear, separation, self-medication – I hate the fact that I can go on.

On top of all of that, I have things in my own life that I need to fit in to the day-to-day in order to keep my sanity, to be happy. My own schoolwork, my health, a new relationship, my dogs and cat, a new house with all of the responsibilities attached to it, remembering to send gifts to my niece and nephew for their 3rd birthday (which I forgot to do), getting together with friends, painting, knitting, reading, writing, laughing, running.

So many things to fit in! How do you do it? (finally getting to the call for sentences :)) How do you fit in what is important and necessary for your, as my late Great Aunt used to say, virtuosity?

Here is mine:

A good night’s sleep and an early morning gives me time to breathe and think before the day fills up on its own – I need more of that so that this doesn’t happen.


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