As long as I can remember I've had a fascination with flying. Despite anyone's best explanation, I am still confounded by the fact that we can lift 75 tons of sheet metal into the air and bring it back down without a big KABOOM. Despite flying over 300 times a year, the thrill of flying has never gotten old.
I have mentioned my neighbor, John in past newsletters (here & here), and while I have talked about his service to our country and general good neighborliness, I don't believe I ever told you what he does for a living. He's a helicopter pilot!
Having never been in a helicopter, I have, on more than one occasion, slipped John a not so subtle hint that should he ever need a "Goose" to his "Maverick" (see how I compared myself to Tom Cruise there), I was READY, WILLING, and ABLE!
John called me a little while back asking, "What are you doing tomorrow?" I answered, "Ummm, working." He said, "Wanna play hookie and help me bring a helicopter back from Colorado?" My response? Say it with me now... "I FEEEEEL THE NEEEEED. THE NEEEEED FOR SPEEEEEEEEED!"
I can't share all of the details of our trip, as he says his company might not approve of the "scenic route" we took but suffice it to say, it was one for the books.
John has been a helicopter pilot in and out of the military for over twenty years and has seen and done it all. Me? Well, despite all of my frequent flier miles, my only experience with helicopters comes from parenting, which is helicoptering of a very different kind.
Trust me when I say that when it comes to hovering, both the flying and parenting type, being a passenger is WAY more fun that being the pilot. Beyond the in-flight responsibilities and requirements, pilots and parents shoulder the enormous weight of knowing that they are ultimately responsible for other people's lives.
Teaching? Well, that's a little different. We have to be comfortable both as a passenger and a pilot and know when to serve in which role. And while we play an important role in kids' development, we do not ultimately shoulder the responsibility for their success.
But, we play a pivotal and problematic role in their lives.
As an educator, we have to be able to recognize when to fly the plane and when to sit back and be quiet. We have to shepherd our students in the right direction, but allow them to make their own decisions. We have to know when to be in command and when to be quiet. We must point out storms that lay ahead, but allow them to navigate through them in their own way. We must provide them with the benefit of our experience, but allow them to choose their own destination and chart their own path.
In other words, sometimes we have to be Goose and sometimes we have to be Maverick.
As I said, when it comes to our students, we are equal parts passenger and pilot on THEIR journey. As much as we might like to think otherwise, it is in fact, THEIR journey. And while we bear a great deal of responsibility for their training, the ultimate burden and responsibility for their lives falls more on them than it does us. Sometimes, in an effort to do what is right, we forget that.
Thanks John, for the flight, fellowship, and showing me my home, children, and profession from a different vantage point. I will be your Goose anytime.
That is, of course, unless you need a Maverick.