Each school day morning for the past many years, I have tied a brightly colored bow tie around my neck, knowing, I guess, that gladness sometimes goes along with color. I can come to my classes scowling or smiling, and since smiling makes more sense to me, I choose ties that might generate some joy – mine and maybe my students. I show I’m glad by the ties I wear – glad to be a teacher, glad to be teaching these certain and singular students, glad to be alive. Somewhere in the Bible St. Paul says we should put on the armor of God, but I also believe in the armor of bright bow ties. Being a teacher brings me into contact with the countless emissaries of discouragement and pessimism, but my lively ties look them in the eye and laugh. My ties tell my students I’m more interested in being joyful than miserable, more willing to whistle and sing than moan and groan. Kids get their fill of fear and distrust these days; I want to show them what poise and self-assurance looks like, and sometimes a brightly striped tie can do that.
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