Anyone that follows my blog knows that I am fascinated with the way in which my children interact with and interpret the world. I truly believe that they have much more to teach me than I have to teach them.
The difficulty lies in the fact that the lessons they have to teach me are not always readily apparent. Usually though, if I stop and allow myself time and space to reflect, I am able to come away with something.
But recently I felt like I was experiencing a moment that was meant to teach me something, but I couldn’t figure out exactly what. My son and I were playing with blocks. We would build them up as high as we could. And then each time, without fail, he would take extreme pleasure in knocking them over.
Why does he spend the time building them up if he is just going to knock them over each time?
Think Jon think!
And then it hit me!
HE DOES IT BECAUSE IT’S FUN!
Why does there need to be any other reason than that?
“There are times when I think I’m doing things on principle, but mostly I just do what feels good. But that’s a principle, too.”
Brian Andreas, Principles
We spend the majority of our time reading and writing about how to increase student learning. And there is nothing wrong with that.
Or is there?
Have we become so focused on teaching them that we have forgotten that they have much to teach us?
I hate to admit it, but I have.
We spend our days and nights trying to figure out how to help our students become better readers and writers, mathematicians and creators, innovators and artists.
I believe it is because we want them to have a good life and we want them to be able to help others do the same. In short, we want them to be happy. The problem is that there is no standardized test that measures whether or not we have done this successfully.
We don’t need a test to tell us whether someone is happy. And yet we in education often fall back on the phrase
“If you can’t measure it, then you can’t improve it.”
And it’s not as if we ignore happiness, but it can fade into the background if we are not careful.
Silly sometimes becomes a bad word.
Daydreaming is often discouraged.
Messes are seen as problems.
We start to discourage these things in our attempt to help our children become College and Career Ready. And so we witness fewer messes, we see less daydreaming and we discourage silliness. Or like Peter Pan, we forget how to fly.
“Why can’t you fly now, mother?”
“Because I am grown up, dearest. When people grow up they forget the way.”
“Why do they forget the way?”
“Because they are no longer gay and innocent and heartless. It is only the gay and innocent and heartless who can fly.”
J.M Barrie, Peter Pan
But Peter Pan was able to relearn what he had forgotten and I believe we can too. The problem is we are losing all of our best teachers.
All children are born with wings, and yet we insist on clipping them because we believe we know better.
Do we really?
When was the last time you were as happy as a three-year old?
Most likely it was when you were with a three-year old who has not yet had their wings clipped.
About a month ago my son asked me if he could do something messy. I’ll be honest I can’t remember exactly what. But here was the exchange:
“Is it okay if I do it?”
“It will make a mess.”
“But if I do it, it will make me laugh.”
I remember this exchange for two reasons. First, I recorded it in my phone because I felt the moment was so poignant. And second, I didn’t let him do whatever it was he was hoping to do because I was worried about the mess he would make. And yet I felt it was important enough to record in my phone.
Shame on me!
I’m sure it would have been fun.
I’m sure he would have let me join in.
And I’m sure it would have been a start in helping me to regain my wings.
So start today
And above all else,
Knock down some blocks!
I promise you’ll be glad you did!
See you in the clouds!