We are in the midst of recording our audio museum exhibits. Excerpts from writings from the turn of the last century bring tears to my eyes as they are read by students a century and a country divided away.
I am helping them get them ready to share, which means workshop. At one point today, I even said, “This feels like Santa’s workshop and we are the elves who have to work hard to get these toys ready in time for Christmas.” The laughter brought tears to my eyes.
What we should be recording (not instead of, but in addition to this museum of audio artifacts) is the sounds that breech the boundaries of our classroom community on the daily.
The baby crying. Mom on the phone across the table. Cousin listening in to the read aloud. The phone ringing and the sixth grader telling them they’d have to call them back. The music playing in the background. The cartoons making silly noises from the other side of the room. The chirping of many smoke detectors all at once, as if on cue. The fish tank. The doorbell. The dogs bark (Okay, that one is from this side of the screen more often than not.) Dad checking on little brother. Phones ringing. Alarms reminding.
And those are just the ones I hear in the seconds before they mute them back up again. But the sounds, the audio artifacts, remain even when my screen is silent. I am not the only one making noise. My voice is not even close to the most important or most consistent sound they hear all day.
These are the sounds of this century, of this country divided. Will sixth graders be one day recording their words as a way of remembering? It’s enough to bring tears to my eyes.