Shaking Through

(This was linked in the title, but made the post proper difficult to get to, so it’s here now instead.)

Since I wasn’t really in a school this year, and don’t feel that it’s my place to share the consolidation of any pedagogical learnings or goals, here is a life lesson courtesy of teenagers.

This morning I was fortunate enough to join a group of senior high school students as they discussed a poetry assignment. One student, while quick to point out that, “I don’t write poems,” was brave enough to let the group study his work.

We discussed things we liked about his poem. We asked for his rationale around parts we weren’t sure about. We shared our interpretations. Sometimes, we questioned the execution of his intent, or offered suggestions about what he might do differently. And, without fail, he provided answers that were gracious, honest, and insightful.

Though he is not “into” poetry, he was able to explain his creative choices; to justify them; to find intent within them in the moment; or—in a couple of cases—admit that they weren’t intentional creative choices at all.

And isn’t that about all we can ask of people as we’re all rattling through life in this wild year? To do what we can, to fake it if we need to, and know when to admit that we don’t know?

In our efficiency-driven system, how might we trade a bit of bureaucracy for humanity? I imagine our students model it beautifully every day.