“Winter is Coming!”
Actually it’s here, at least according to the calendar, and by the looks of it here in the piedmont of North Carolina, it surely does look like winter outside with a blanket of snow on the ground.
But also metaphorically speaking, “Winter is Coming!”
Trump is descending upon Westeros, D.C to lay claim to the Iron Throne. Factions of power hungry privatizers are mobilizing with lobbyists and mounds of money to wage influence on several key states under the banners of school choice, vouchers, and charter schools. Tax-exempt High Sparrows are being allowed to accept public money to educate students without regulation like traditional schools are under. There’s even a talk of a literal wall to keep out “wildlings” because they simply “do not belong.”
Even the dreaded White Walkers look as homogenously caucasian as newly elected president’s cabinet selections do.
And the man who will sit on the Iron Throne has chosen a neophyte in education but a veteran in privatization to be his educational Right Hand.
Yes. “Winter is Coming.”
So what do we as public school teachers and advocates do in the face of this daunting prospect?
Simple. We fight with dragons just like in Game of Thrones.
In literature, teachers talk of motifs, symbols, and archetypes – characters, objects, beings, articles, etc, that appear and mean generally the same thing most of the time they appear. Not all the time, but most of the time.
Think of serpents. At one time, serpents were said to have legs like in the story of Genesis concerning the tempting of Adam and Eve. Satan comes in the form of a serpent and through the use of his rhetoric and tongue, he literally poisons the minds of the two inhabitants of the Garden of Eden into eating apples.
He doesn’t bite them. He talks to them. He poisons them with what comes out of his mouth. His words are his fire and the fire does damage.
(By the way, if you are a literary character, don’t eat apples – Adam and Eve, Snow White, Trojan War and Discord. Have an orange instead.)
Dragons are like serpents, except they are bigger and can fly. Their poison can be both words and actual fire. Their weapons come from their mouths in the form of words or fire. And sometimes their words are like fire – they burn. (And, I will admit, that not all dragons are mean, but a lot talk with logic and truth. Their words have fire.)
- Think of Smaug in The Hobbit. He’s smart. Sounds like the guy from Sherlock. Has a temper to boot and literally can throw flames from his mouth.
- Think Saphira. She doesn’t even have to open her mouth to talk to Eragon.
- Even C.S. Lewis used one in the Chronicles of Narnia (remember Eustace Scrubb?).
- And, of course Harry Potter’s stories. There’s Norbert. And even another form of serpent – the basilisk. There’s even parseltongue!
Now back to GOT and our figurative comparison to the educational terrain we see before us. One of the most powerful foes against the forces that seek to rule Westeros is Daenerys Targaryen, the Mother of Dragons. Not only does she wield experience and power, she brings dragons, specifically three of them named Drogon, Rhaegal & Viserion. But she also brings her own fire – the ability to negotiate, argue, and appeal.
And it doesn’t hurt that she has dragons and that she is immune to flames herself. We teachers and advocates have certainly withstood many flames of criticism hurled our way that is undeserved and unwarranted. Yet we still persevere.
Fire tends to melt ice, and if winter is coming, we need that fire.
So we need our own dragons.
We need our voices.
Whether they are expressed in letters, emails, tweets, postings, blogs, phone calls, rallies, protests, or wherever, we need our voices to be heard. They are fire.
Write your representatives and let your voices be heard. And in the meantime, we will sit on our own Iron Thrones in front of our classrooms and benevolently facilitate learning for those who come through our doors.
Because we don’t have walls to keep people out.