Time for reflection. My coauthor and I have just returned another round of edits, spoken with the graphic designer about ideas for the cover of our book, and are moving forward. As I write this, it becomes more real than just thinking about it in my head. I suppose that is why I value writing so much. It seems to make things seem more real, more authentic, and more fun. Connection is vital for us mortals they say. Living in your head is not enough connection perhaps. Also, I love to be a witness to other’s journey and see them grow and learn and become. So probably I am assuming there are others out there who want to be a witness to this part of my journey. It has encouraged me as I watch others go through the ups and downs of writing and publishing.
As I have shared before, this book we are writing, that is coming soon, has been a long time in the coming. So writing the Coming Soon notification above is quite startling to me. My husband, who has passed away, would have loved to witness this part of my writing journey. When they say age is just a number, or if you have seen one 80 year old you have just seen only one 80 year old, has taken on new meaning. Now that I am near 80, it has hampered me at times because my mind says, “Now that is old!” The truth is, however, and we have all heard people say, “Well, I’m getting old, but I still feel like 39 on the inside!” It seems true to me. We have to live our “inner” truth. Be our authentic self. Do what comes naturally. Trust the process. Try new things. I think it is those ‘inner’ things that keep the heart and mind young while the outer person continues to show its inevitable aging. Time is a strange bed fellow. Hours can seem long, days can seem long, and yet another week rolls by, another month, and now it is almost Christmas again. Where do the years go?
Our book was written in hopes of supporting parents who are Heroes to their children living the Learning disability or ADHD extra challenges in school life day by day. Worrying about grades, failing, passing, having to rewrite everything, missing recess, staying after school is disheartening. If I were younger, I think I would work on school reform. The research on the brain, technology, and our culture give us so much insight into education and educational psychology. Schools are challenging places despite having wonderful teachers and learning environments.
The world of work, the world of leisure, social connectedness, google, Siri, Alexa, technology changes how we live yet many of our schools look and feel the same as they did 50 and more years ago. All my years in education, my heart went out to the brilliant, bored students, or the brilliant kid who could not spell or write, or the conceptual big picture learner who could not remember details, or the child who was an introvert, or the one who marched to a different drummer. Intense all day interaction with same chronological age peers who all learn and process differently by a teacher who is trying to know and understand and reach each one is a challenge for everyone involved. Grades, grading, progress reports, report cards, standardized testing all of which are so time consuming for teachers and also often time misleading and demoralizing and missing the essence of a child and their gifts and talents. I have known so many people who have left school with the feeling, “I am dumb, I am not smart enough.” They have to go on and live their life and no matter how smart or not they all need to find a way to succeed, provide, live a life that contributes to society so why not equip them with self knowledge and self awareness where they can be their best and learn and grow without all the negative feedback year after year. Who does that serve? Not the teacher who are under pressure to give accurate grades and not to parents who are disappointed that their child does not measure up, and certainly not to the students who feel second rate, and not really even to those who feel like they are at the top of the class because there are always those who will do better and be smarter! I know there are better ways based on research. Educators and rightly so, are afraid if they experiment or try things differently might harm a child, his future education, his potential so we stay with what is accepted and mainstream. Meanwhile many students essence, gifts, talents, strengths are totally missed. Some never to be found. Some to be found along the way. Grading, comparing, artificial standards only serve to create competition, comparison, ego, low self-concept and serves no one perfectly well.
I love the animal school story where all the animals are taught to fly, most fail except the birds, butterflys and insects. All are taught to swim, fish pass beautifully and others fail miserably. All are taught to climb and again the same outcome. The same curriculum may not work for all. I do believe in a Liberal arts education so we have a cultured, educated, historically aware, rational, aesthetic society.
But I believe we can teach history, social studies, culture, values through art, music, literature and story telling. These areas do not need to be memorized and tested for dates, facts, and details. Google can supply any of those at a voice command. What Siri, Alexa and google cannot do are to give you a love for literature, art, music, history, religion, or science. I believe that comes from connecting to the essence of the art and music, literature and so on. The concern I hear, is well they would all fail because they would not do the homework or listen. They would fail to learn if there were no grades, no tests, no homework. But what if there were no grades, just repetition, exposure to stories of history, wars, and science, literature, good music, art, dance, and religion with time lines through history. Then as they advanced were exposed to more technical classes like math, science, technology. Meanwhile, all were being taught critical thinking which is more vital than ever before with our advertising and fraud. All students being involved in debate, logic, collaboration and communication. Every student would be grounded in math, biology, chemistry, physics, music, and art essentials and then those with a propensity and love for it could do more intensive study. Now, if you don’t take the higher levels of math or science or English you are considered second rate instead of being respected for your gift and talent that is needed for a complete society. Certainly bright people can come up with a way to motivate, evaluate, and ensure learning levels are mastered or completed. Innovation is what learners are good at.
Well, it felt good to put those thoughts out of my head. I know they are nothing new. However, I think we have to keep it ever in the forefront of our thinking to be sure we support our children who will be the new leaders of our society. Nothing stays the same. Change is always happening so we need to be sure we are adapting and supporting what is needed to be healthy and productive for all.
Time marches on. Time is a gift we have the privilege of unwrapping every day. Time can move on and we have nothing to show for it, or we can participate and make choices to grow, improve, and learn.