A Teacher Says Exactly What He Thinks About His Students (And We All Need To Hear It)

Being a teacher is a mighty big responsibility because, well, students. Many teachers I know got into the profession because they love the idea of changing lives and perspectives. However, I’ve never really understood why someone would get into the profession myself (low pay, many hours, teaching kids) until this science teacher explained his passion for teaching. The video starts a little slow, but give it 20 seconds (and sorry, but you can’t skip because you’ll miss some things). I promise you’ll get what he’s saying.

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Taylor Gaar This is called Quantum Entanglement for the 5th Grade Classroom.

Every year I am introduced to 56 fledgling movers, doers, builders, writers, speakers, leaders, lovers, listeners, nurturers, neighbors, humans. They are my charges. And I am charged with helping them distinguish positive from negative.

I am charged with wiring the circuits that recognize the particular implosive pop of the p in proton and pairing it with the p in positive, proton, positive, proton, positive. Pro means positive, it means you're for it.

And once I think, fingers crossed, that they seem to have scored it, I try to splice that now familiar auditory crackle with an image, the imprint of a plus sign on a ping pong ball, or Styrofoam or simply wizzing wiggles on a white board, whatever.

What's important is the system. What's important, my dear 10-year-olds peering up at me dutifully from the lattice lines of your desks, what's important are the relationships. For as poor a substitute a ping pong ball may seem, your mind's literally cannot grasp what it means to be so infinitesimally small. A million times smaller than the smallest spec your retinas, receptors can recognize. Smaller even than the way you felt when...

So for now, believe that protons are ping pong balls, that electrons are still smaller spheres tracing neat circles around a cluster of grapes. For now, believe these lies so that we have a place to start when we talk about relationships, about how life charges repel and opposites attract. Remember that, opposites attract, opposites attract, opposites attract.

Let's discuss how these impossibly small particles found each other once inside of a star, and ever since have careened constantly incessantly, the pushes and pulls and proximities forging, if you can imagine, and you can't really, some kind of a whole, affiction, a contradiction, an atom.

An abstraction which yields the illusion of solidness, bodies knit so close in space and yet mostly empty. Fundamental, elusary, impermanent. For the empty parts are wrapped in what we'll call shells and from time to time particles may become so excited by an infusion of new energy that they break from their shells and go hurtling off, sometimes with other particles to other homes, forming new bonds.

These are the miraculous arrangements that compose you, compose you like you were one flawless movement in a cosmic symphony sprawled into existence by the quills in quasars dipped in inky reaches of dust. Let's start, too, about how these impossibly small particles are composed of impossibly smaller pieces, how these pieces, too, twirl through eternity in a dance that binds their fates so fundamentally that you can rip them apart and shoot them miles in opposite directions through underground tunnels never to be rejoined, and yet when you set one spinning in a different direction, the other one responds in kind across the miles without any observable passage of time whatsoever.

Children, you are my charges, and I am charged with helping you distinguish positive from negative. I am charged with wiring the circuits that recognize consequences and fire when you make snap decisions, but precision isn't always possible, so I aim to build in a fail safe, a short circuit hardwired to the moral compass in your gut so that you trust it, and in an instant too fleeting to reason your way out of a bind, your mind may find guidance and veer towards the right, out of instinctive but practiced aversion to the wrong.

Cause we're not long for this life, but while you're here, what you become is the sum of a series of choices. So, when nothing else seems constant, learn to fall back on that consonant. Listen out for the p so you can recognize the positive, proton, positive. Find the positives in your life, and out of them build your nucleus, your center of gravity.

Choose them for your family, and if you think 5th grade science is complicated, wait until you get to know yourself. When you start to think you may have a decent foothold there, you won't, by the way. When you can boil the salient parts of you down into a concept of self, when you take that concept and you situate it in a system of related concepts, mother, father, sister, lover, job, God and whatever core you think lies immovable at your center defining you, know that much of who you become will be shaped by these systems.

Know that families, too, are contradictions, knit so close in the fabric of heredity and circumstance, and yet, when the lighting is just right, you can catch a glimpse of the unnavigable gulfs that stretch between individuals. The family unit, a solid composed of empty space, and so what's important are the relationships. And some of those you choose and some were drawn up in contracts of faith that you were never witness to, but regardless of their genesis, know that you have agency to improve them, and to release them.

And when someone with whom you have felt a bond goes hurtling off into the distance, take heart. You cannot exist as an empty shell, as likely as that dim future will probably feel at some point. For one, you are not empty, like an atom, the only truly solid part of you is what is found at your center and two, when people go and holes open up in the peripheral parts of you, trust that sooner or later, nature fills a vacuum.

Like the concentric regions surrounding the nucleus of an atom, human hearts were made to be full. Trust your heart. I mean, as your teacher I would have been thought irresponsible if I told you the heart had anything to do with love or morals or any sort of meaning we can trust, because the accepted scientific morality is that thoughts and feelings are simply the astounding product of an almost unfathomable process wherein electrical activity is orchestrated an directed through a vast network of conductive organic tissue inside of your brain.

So, I'll explain that, but your common sense will expose the flaw in my reasoning as you recognize that your dreams are too big to fit inside your head. So, for now, believe that the heart is an organ of perception and when you think you hear it speaking, listen.

Let it guide you through the pushes and pulls and proximities which arise because these are the miraculous arrangements that compose you.

And when you set out to put your stamp upon the world, if you forget all the science that I've taught you, remember this one thing. Whether it's because the circuitry of empathy has buoyed out bloodline out the branches of the evolutionary tree, or because like recognizing, like your stardust, simply harbors some intrinsic affinity for my own, or because of something bigger, still, beyond my capacity to help you understand, you are fundamentally bound to those you love and those you hate.

No person, no particle is insignificant, and the spin that you choose for yourself as you move through time and space will change the fates of people you have never met.

Now, welcome to the classroom. Who do you want to be?

Thank you for helping remember who I want to be, have a wonderful night.

There may be small errors in this transcript.

This video was created by Fabian Productions. You can follow them on Facebook and Twitter. Thumbnail image by Francisco Osorio used under a Creative Commons license.


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