I came to a small realization about my students today at the Kivimuseo. When I first walked into the one room-mineral museum nestled in the basement of the city’s library, I was taken aback by how many rocks, shells, minerals, (even dinosaur eggs?) were displayed in such a small, albeit breathtakingly beautiful, space. I initially questioned the decision to house 7000 objects on display in one room, but gratefully paid my five euros to the woman at the front counter and stepped inside.
I was the only patron for the entire hour I was there, and the engulfing silence was only occasionally interrupted by the barely audible Finnish chatter of the two female museum workers, and even that was coming from a room some distance away. The dramatic lighting and presence of so many glass-encased objects, the oldest dating back 3500 million years, made the experience all the more surreal as I quietly roamed the room snapping photographs.
Then again and again. By the fifth or sixth time around, I realized I was still finding amazingly detailed stones and pieces that I had missed previously. This went on for quite some time and I was still dazzled, each time around finding new little intricacies or pieces I had somehow overlooked before.
I think if there had been more museum-goers, I might have called it a day sooner, because I am sometimes too self aware like that. But there was no way I was voluntarily leaving my own personal treasure trove until I had completely absorbed all it had to offer.
And then it happened..
It was after about forty five minutes that I found it: a little outcrop of green mineral growing atop a beautiful bright pink stone as if it were its own miniature island, as if it had found its own perfect little spot in the world. I couldn’t believe I had missed it before.
And that was when I started thinking. Maybe that is why teachers are so crucial to having a voice in educational decision-making. I mean, sure, I knew I was looking at a room full of beautiful, meaningful, intricate objects the moment I laid my eyes upon the glass enclosure-filled space. But it wasn’t until I had spent the time to examine each one, sometimes again and again and again, that I really began to see the elaborateness and complexities of each individual piece. And even in doing so, I am sure there were innumerable things I overlooked; how could I have not?
So here it is, here is what that small, seemingly inconsequential bit of green rock made me come to realize:
I am afraid. I am afraid that some of the people who think they know what is best for my students are not the people who have taken the time to get to know who they are and what they need. I am afraid that those little green outcrops will never be seen or heard from and be at the mercy of someone who made a decision that will affect their life, someone who knows nothing at all about their life. I am afraid that decisions are being made by someone who doesn’t understand that you need to take a great deal of time, of interaction, to realize the full (and often hidden) potential of anything, even in a rock museum. Someone who may have just browsed through the gallery a few times, or just peeked their head in for a few minutes.
Someone who may never even have entered at all.