Putting the care IN…not on top.

This summer I heard the passionate Chris Lehmann of SLA say:

  “We need to care for children and not just about them.”

I still have the quote on an index card on my desk and the statement passes my “spaghetti test”; it stuck with me.

This week many topics went hurtling by but some that were sticking with me were:

Do we need more anti-anything programs?
Do we need to write more policies on attendance/plagiarism etc?
Do we need stamp,chess or book club to make THE difference?
Will the spirit assembly give our school spirit?

If @chriswejr did not Tweet so much :) I would dig out his Tweets that got me down this path of thinking in the first place re: anti bullying policies vs. nurturing caring.

I don’t want to be cold or crass, but I was feeling doubtful that these programs, policies and 1 hour events could make the transformative change in the fabric of caring that we are chasing.

When this week I was working with my multi-grade (8 through 12) Social Media class, I was floundering, as it was challenging for us to come together around one common goal and vision. I, in my goal oriented teacher way, was trying to rush and push the process along. I wanted to get to the goal, the project, the end task, done. Come on guys, that is what we need to do….

But…in the middle of the crazy, eclectic, frustrating group conversation, it hit me, and hit me hard…this IS the goal right here, right here in front of my goal driven face.

Children of different ages, with different talents and interests coming together to complete a project that is real world and meaningful to them.

When later in the week, I spy in the hall, the little (and he is little) grade 8 in our class talking to the cool grade 11 guy in our class…there IT is

They share something, they see how they are connected, they know what they share, they know how they are similar rather than see only differences.

Later that same day in Biology 12 class, the room is energy-less, even with 27 students in it, and I look at them, look hard at them….and wonder, perhaps they are not connected to anything meaningful in here? Nothing. Why should they care? Have I given them any reason to? Or for that matter have I really cared for them, in my lack of providing them with something of meaning for their lives? 

I wonder why after all this time and all this energy: why can’t I offer something of real meaning to these young people?

What is equally mysterious, is why I have to keep this card on my desk to remind myself of the basic human emotion of caring anyway? Why do I balk when clubs and spirit day are suggested as ways to build a caring community, what is it that I am reacting to?

When I look at them and wish they would care about something, the wishing is not enough. There has to be something of real value and depth to care about. You can’t care if you feel like a disembodied zombie sucking up liquified facts that some chief zombie has liquified for you. To care for someone you first have to feel connected to someone, be willing to share and willing to risk the sharing. Be willing…to have the feeling…in your heart. This is not something you can add-on later like a picture to a wall. The caring has to be in the walls, in the floor, and in the foundation.

If someone was to offer you a bag of sharp shards of pottery fragments, and then command you: “Care about and carry with you this bag of sharp useless bits! Trust me, one day in the FAR off future, this bag of seemingly useless sharp fragments will magically glue together to form an exquisite and functional plate. Just trust me here kids!”

When I hear Chris Kennedy say:

” No longer is change about what we used to have and are losing but what we could have and what we are gaining when we move to that next spot.”

I see IT.

But simultaneously I get a tightening sadness in my throat, as although I can fathom it, I can’t make it real. Or rather I do not know how to make it real.

Am I talking crazy stuff?

If not…. do YOU know how to make this real? 

My fragmented pieces of the metaphorical broken plate, bowl, or vase, so sharp, cutting and divisive, clearly defining the differences between us….could in another medium give meaning, could show us how we are the same and share…if we let our broken fragments mix with others’ shards to become a beautifully eclectic co-created mosaic of meaning.

Just how?

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One thought on “Putting the care IN…not on top.

  1. Good stuff, I love those days where I rein in the part of me that just wants to get through stuff and focuses on the awesome, crazy conversation that sticks with them way more than the putative goal for the day!

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