. . . overheard in Halifax, Nova Scotia, September 2008. —
In downtown Halifax on a perfect fall day, my wife Ellen and I were walking toward a teacher and about a dozen pre-kindergarten students. As they were about to cross the street, at the intersection of Spring Garden Road and Birmingham Street, the teacher said gently but firmly to her charges,
“Put your words away until we get safely across the street.”
I was struck by the beautiful way she said this. It sounded so much better than “Shut up while we cross the street,” or “Zip your lips until we get to the other side!”
The teacher’s manner held a complete but sweet control over these young students’ actions, and apparently even their thoughts. They became instantly calm and quiet, but at the same time at a high state of alert. This brief time in their presence represented a pristine moment in education–including my own—not to be forgotten.
On another level, “Put your words away” sounds like a piece of advice that many of us could profitably follow more than we often do. Dare I write more than this? No, I’m putting my words away!