Ellin Oliver Keene, literacy guru,shared this article (information below) on Facebook today, and I really enjoyed reading it. Reminding me, as watch kids in my room “do their thing” there is primordial code in play. It is my hope that POSSIBLY, I might be the one who might offer at least a few of them the magical opportunities their soul’s are looking for.
..When we are born, we are born with a sort of mood in us, a mood that comes to us through our genes, that will be seasoned by experience, but deep down, it’s already there, looking for company, for someone to share itself with, and when we happen on the right piece of music, the right person, or, in this case the right artist, then, with a muscle that is as deep as ourselves, with the force of someone grabbing for a life preserver, we attach.
Krulwich, Robert. “Boy Meets Painting. Painting Grabs Boy. Boy Mystified”. Krulwich Wonders: Robert Krulwich on Science. National Public Radio. Fri. 7 Mar. 2014. WEB.
How can I create an environment which enables students to possibly find their heart felt experience, like this? How can I make sure that boredom does not eat them up before they connect to the world while they are in school? How can I keep their internal light shining brightly? Making? Freedom to explore? Freedom to talk and connect? Exposure to new and novel subjects and ‘things’? Opportunities for me to get to know them, truly? Am I doing this? How do I know?
These questions constantly swirl through my head as I am unceasingly pressured, still, by the rules of the educational models of the past….they have to read a level $%& by May, they have to write at least 8 sentences, they have to be able to do this, that, this, that, this, that….This indoctrinated pressure fuels me to continually question my pursuits of doing things differently than I have for the past 15 years. It is like a looming ghost that floats above my head eerily chanting, “……YOOOOOOU are not doing this like you used to……WHHHHAAATTT is going to happen to these kids……AAARRREE you doing the right thing?” I try to block it out. I know that these kids need more than proclaimed reading levels and sentence counts and nonsense assessment. They need opportunities to explore. And, in primary classrooms, what does this look like? Well, I’m getting there as I try to figure out how one can limit the “telling and doing” to kids and maximize kids’ natural explorer instincts. We are no longer creating dutiful factory workers as we did in the last century.
Of course I am teaching kids how to read and write; however, seasoned with more 21st century skill building stuff and more of a lens on the journey and big picture or who they are and how they fit into this big/small world.
Daily, I draw conclusions, go back and forth from the drawing board, and muster the courage to try that new thing that will drive my students to that “mood” that is already in their genes, as Krulwich testifies.
I have been reading a book titled Linchpin: Are you indispensable by Seth Godin (–recommended by a very forward thinking parent!). Godin asserts:
…Where do the great artists, writers, product developers, copywriters, inventors, scientists, process engineers come from?
Explain this: If I make a list of great artists (Alice Waters, Herschell Gordon Lewis, Spike Lee, Eliyahu Goldratt, Muddy Waters, Cory Doctorow, Richard Feynman, Shepard Fairey), not one of the names on this particular list is the product of a school designed TO create him or her.
….Why are you working so hard to bury your natural-born instincts? I’ve never met someone who had no art in them, though it’s buried sometimes. Markets are crying out. We need you to stand up and be remarkable. Be human. Contribute. Interact. Take the risk that you might make someone upset with your initiative, innovation and insight–it turns out that you’ll probably delight them instead.”
….People want to be told what to do because they are afraid of figuring it out for themselves.
Godin, Seth, Linchpin: Are you indispensable. New York, New York: Penguin Group, 2010.
It is about exposure, mini moments of delivery and coaching as they move our of your way and test their limits in an environment of boundary-less opportunity. We can do this.