|A friend listens and a friend reaches out|
A friend doesn't use the first time you meet as a chance to scare or threaten (like some teachers seem to do on the first day of class). A friend is willing to consider your point of view as well as accept that there are problems without solutions. "A friend is more concerned about helping people than getting credit. A friend cares. A friend loves. A friend listens. And a friend reaches out" (Monson, 1997).
The power of friendship is incredible. Below is one of my favorite friendship scenes, taken from The Bride of Frankenstein. The old man's innocence and kindness work wonders on the very Monster the whole town is seeking to kill. In some ways I see the monster as a representation of what we often think of as "problem children," or even our own fears and inadequacies of teaching and learning.
Perhaps the Monster is a good representation of our country's attitude about standardized testing? Or the ideology the pervades the rhetoric on the political stage about how we must be "better" than every other country in everything. Maybe the Monster in our classrooms is something beyond our current understanding and, like the blind man, we don't understand the "problems" or dangers of what we face.
If our focus is on friendship rather than scores, student's lives rather than their GPA, then perhaps the underlying purposes of testing and classroom management and much of the education revolution debate could be met or exceeded.
Yes, the Monster can be taught manners - but only by friends.