If you’d had Donald J. Trump in your class, when his hair was real, would you have loved him?
I’d bet that, though he may have tested you (as many times as you failed him), though you may have torn out clumps of your own real hair triple-marking his staccato streams of unconscience, you would have loved him all the same. His mug – the one he had put on your desk on the last day before he disembarked for the holidays; on the last day he would go and never come back until you saw him on the cover of ‘The Art of the Deal’; his gilded and ample ‘Best Teacher’ mug was the one that you cherished the most.
It troubles me that I have no qualms thinking of him as an idiot. How can I have a Growth Mindset for others and yet deny it to him? Sat across a formica desk from his parents, there is no way on Earth I could find the words to deride him: “Your son is an irredeemable idiot.”
Worse still: “Your son may be, at best, ignorant; at worst, an evil buffoon.”
The great irony of teaching is that we are both discouraged from and encouraged to make judgements. We are asked to weigh children – sometimes to such an extent that we lose sight of, and expertise in, anything that comes between such instances of measurement. On the flipside of the coin (and what is more schizophrenic than the two sides of a coin?), we are asked to reserve judgement; to talk about the behaviours and not the child, to deal in symptoms and live in hope that all can be redeemed in time. We refuse to wash our hands and we are constantly reminded to wash our hands.
And yet. And yet of Donald J. Trump I poise over judgement’s wash basin with soap and flannel. Only yesterday was I chortling at the ball-free statues of him that had sprung up in various US cities like 3D graffiti. Had the same graffiti artists erected equally unpleasant statues of Hillary Clinton, I’m sure I would have been quick to dismiss their authors as bigotted loons. And yet. And yet.
Donald J. Trump is an idiot.
As redeemable as the child in your class that refuses to read because books are less immediately entertaining than slowly killing flies or taunting the perceptibly weak so that he can conceal his perceptible weaknesses.
In his defence, I say to his mother, “Not yet.” In his defence, I say to his father, “But, yet.”
Donald J. Trump is becoming, in progress, developing. He is in The Cave. He cannot see beyond what is projected for him, but then nor can I. Yes, he may (in his haste to deflect attention from his own equitable deficiencies) tear my wings from me. But in doing so, he may inadvertently (and with unknowing benevolence) spare those of my children.
As with Obama before him, there is always hope. Trump is not an idiot.
We’ll only definitively know him to be so when it is too late.