Marker Tower 

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

When I was a high school teacher, I walked into a classroom after lunch once to find, amidst the usual teen chaos, a boy making a tower out of markers. He balanced the markers carefully on their ends to make a narrow pyramid nearly to the ceiling.

Another teacher told him to stop.

I saw that he still had about twenty markers to go before he emptied the marker bucket so I began to help him. I would hand him markers so he wouldn't have to get down from his chair; he was standing on his tiptoes to reach the top of his tower.

The other teacher scolded me for helping him when the rest of the class had already settled into their seats and were ready to start class.

I thought, if I help him finish faster, he would achieve his dream of constructing a marker tower, check it off his lifetime to-do list, and face his next challenge, which was to absorb my class.

We got to the last marker. Just as he was about to place it on the tower, it all tumbled down.

I left him to clean up the mess and I started my lesson.

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