Saturday, June 28, 2008

Why is there a picture of President Kennedy in Mr. Plunkett's classroom?

Okay, Readers…stay with me…this will take some explaining.

First of all, I just like the picture.

Secondly, my father drew it. He drew it in early 1964 right after President Kennedy had been assassinated. The country was still in shock and trying to recover. We didn’t really know what had happened, rumors about plots were swirling around (that has never really stopped), and President Johnson (a distant cousin of mine) was doing his best to keep the country going.

But as the years have passed by, we have all learned new things about President Kennedy that we didn’t know when he was President. Much of what we know now makes President Kennedy look pretty bad. So why would I hang a picture of that type of President in my classroom?

Finally, we get to the answer…

I keep it in my room to remind myself that people and appearances can change, sometimes for the worse.  Many Americans now have nothing good to say about the president they once admired; instead, Kennedy's presidency is dismissed out of hand and most people remember nothing of the inspiration that Kennedy brought to much of the country. The image of President Kennedy has also changed over time; he went from being considered a youthful, healthy, vibrant energetic leader to a woman-chasing, physically ill, suspicious, confused, and sometimes even LUCKY man who was considered by many to be nothing more than in the right place at the right time. All the good he did or tried to do is gone and forgotten.

It could happen to me too. Do I really make a difference in my classroom? Do I truly reach my students or am I just a loud, clanging cymbal? Have I changed over time and has it been a change for the better? Am I still open-minded or do I just pretend to be?

I know what I THINK I am…but only time will tell if I am right.

Meantime, the picture hung in every classroom I have occupied during my teaching career. Hopefully, the reminder will stick with me.

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