Hallway in Orthodox Jewish School. Smart and Funny Crooked Grin Tenth Grade Boy, whom I taught for two years, is bubbling over with excitement as he waylays Preoccupied Teacher.
"Ms. C, the most amazing thing happened in drivers' ed."
"I was sitting next to this kid, who, it turns out, goes to a Catholic school, and when he saw my kipa he started asking me all kinds of questions."
"He wanted to know all about my religion, and what we do, and where I go to school, and why, and he was really interested."
"He probably was. Did you have a good time talking to him?"
"It was great. He really didn't know anything about Judaism at all, and I got to explain a lot."
"I imagine that you did a terrific job. It's too bad he hasn't studied Judaism in his school; I'm sure he has to take Religious Studies. Now did you do the other part of the conversation?"
"What do you mean?"
"The part where you ask him about his faith and life and school."
"Uh, well, no."
"Well, that's your assignment for next week in drivers' ed. If you are going to engage in this conversation, it needs to go both ways."
"OK! I'll come back and tell you what happens!"
Same scene. Same characters.
"So, Ms. C, I did what you said, and I talked to that kid again!"
"And how did it go? Where does he go to school?"
"Famous Soccer Jesuit School. But he doesn't really know much about his religion."
"Really? What do you mean?"
"He couldn't really explain it. He said he goes to mass -- that's what you call it, right?-- once a week, and to prayers a couple of times a week, but that was about all he could say. He really couldn't explain any of the beliefs."
"Did you ask him why he goes to Famous Soccer Jesuit?"
"Because his parents made him."
"So of the two of you, you were far better prepared to discuss your life and beliefs and practices, and you're the one who has made some significant choices in your life?"
Smart and Funny Crooked Grin: "Yeah."
Teachers' workroom. Same characters.
"Ms. C, I need to ask you a question."
"Umm, I'm on my way to a meeting. Walk with me in the hall and you can ask me on the way."
"This is a longer question than that."
"OK, why don't you tell me what it is and we'll see."
"Well, you know I am doing a lot of investigating and exploring right now, and trying to research a lot of things."
"So I wondered, would you explain to me why you believe what you do?"
Now Not-So-Preoccupied Teacher is registering that he has asked, "Why?" and not "What?"
"You know, that IS a longer question than I was expecting. That won't fit into a short walk down the hall."
"I told you."
"OK, well, I really have to go to this meeting. But I would love to have this discussion with you. When we have real time for it."
A week later. I have figured out the answer. I told him today that he'd better come back soon.