“School is killing my vibe.” So read the sweatshirt on the teenager I passed in the park today. I wonder if she wears it to school. I wonder whether she’d be punished if she does.
Wednesday is the first day of school. It’s a good time for us adults to pause and ask ourselves, “What the heck are we doing to our kids? And why are we doing it?”
Schools here, there and everywhere certainly have the power to kill the vibe of their students and far too frequently, they exercise that power. They get lost in the maze of heated discussions about core curriculum and ignore the core character of the children they teach. They develop elaborate systems of reward and punishment and neglect the great curiosity kids have to figure stuff out just because it’s interesting. They organize schedules like factories with bells and whistles, organize information like pieces on the assembly line to be fitted so that each result is exactly the same and meets some outer standard, they punch kids in and punch kids out and with no room for their vibe to unfold, kids start punching each other as well.
People, it’s so easy to create beautiful schools that ring with the unique vibrations of each child, vibrations also brought into a collective accord like notes in music. It’s easy to let kids’ innate fascination with how the world works blossom and unfold. It takes no effort to show kids how much you enjoy them and welcome them and want to get to know them and want to learn to love them. And if you (meaning, we, the adults in charge) have the good sense to go in this direction, lo and behold, the kids respond. They fill the halls with lively buzz and chatter, work happily away at their desks or tables or behind the painter’s easel or Orff xylophone. They infect us with their fresh perspectives and zany humor and surprising compassion. When they are happy, we are happy, when we are happy, they are happy, when all are happy, it leaks out the school gates and rolls down the street and the surrounding culture is uplifted just a tad. It’s really so easy.
As schools open around the country, let us pause and consider. Let us de-couple from the train of fear and stress and achievement and walk together on this good green earth pausing to smell the flowers, observe the insects, sing with the birds, dance with the leaves in the breeze. Let the children know that we welcome their vibe, that their particular vibration is sounding a beautiful and necessary note that all the world is waiting for, that together the collective good vibes are singin’ and swingin’ the jazz of tomorrow’s promise.
May it be so!