Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Be Yourself

                                    Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.

Why do we care so much about making everyone the same? Why do we work so hard to make sure everyone believes the same thing, worships the same god, buys the same product? Why do we want children to all get the same answers on the same tests? The 100 trillion possible connections between brain cells is nature’s way of telling us that no two brains will ever be close to being the same. 100 trillion—an unfathomable number, but one that drives the point home that we are designed to think differently in at least some ways than any of the other 7 billion people we share the planet with. Five minutes sitting in the airport watching people walk by will remind us that no two human faces or bodies are the same, no two walk the same or move the same. Nature gives us a mandate to be different and we squander it by pretending that we all could be and should be the same.

This is on my mind today as I watch 27 teachers teach a lesson in their Level III Orff Schulwerk practicum. Do I have certain guidelines and criteria I’m looking for in a “good lesson?” Yes I do and they know it because I’ve modeled it for them all week and their previous Level I and II teachers did also the last two years. They’re designed to stimulate thought and imagination, to create a musical flow in class, to fully engage the students at their highest level of thinking, doing and feeling. Are there hard and fast rules, mandatory key words and a scripted order of events? No there are not, because that would make these teachers mere mechanical imitators instead of living, breathing and creating beings. Do the teachers have enough guidelines to understand how to structure their lesson, but not so much that they feel confined? Yes, they do and the proof is in the pudding.

And the pudding was delicious indeed. Every single lesson was engaging, imaginative, alive with humor and energy, musical, coherent and served to bring the group together. Each taught with the full force of their character because they had permission to and could stop worrying about being a pawn in someone else’s game called “The Perfect Lesson.” Almost every lesson included something that I never would have thought of myself  in spite of my 41 years of experience. But now I will think of it and will try to adapt to my own way of thinking and doing.

The imagination has no boundaries and when we invite it into the lesson, into the school, into the national discourse, into our lives, we all emerge refreshed. People rise to their own horizon and often push it yet just a little bit further. e.e. cummings, the poet who refused to capitalize his name to claim an identity, said it well:

“To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you into everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight, and never stop fighting.”

Today, 27 teachers fought that battle and we all won.

PS Oh helpful blog readers, have you notice the type face being different these last few blogs. I don't like it and can't figure out why it changed. And then today, the paragraph starting "The imagination has no boundaries…" is exactly the way I like it and how it has been. But nothing I do will make the whole blog look like this. Any suggestions?

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