Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Forever Eight

I spent most of third grade in the hall. I simply was bored with much of school and thought it  better to have fun that be meekly obedient. I’d like to think that as I matured, I tempered my naughty impulses with good citizenship and responsible adult-like behavior. But part of me was—and is—forever naughty.


So imagine my delight when one of the students doing her Level III Practicum teaching dumped a bag of trash out on the floor and had the students improvising with discarded cans, paper plates, toilet paper tubes and the like. Hardly the dignified lesson a responsible teacher trainer would approve of. But how I loved it!! A lesson filled with delicious humor, unexpected twists and turns, wholly in the character of the quirky human being who brought it all to life. In short, I loved it! And just for the record, she had washed out some of the cans ahead of time and worked trash collection into the lesson so it all went back into the plastic bag with no discernible signs of its earlier presence on the dance floor. 


Just about each of the 12 lessons had at least one zany moment. From reciting rhythms echoing rubber chickens and pigs to a text about cows, cats and pigs playing “moo-sic, mewo-sic, maaah- sic,” the bearded man dressed as a witch, the game of getting to play instruments when someone stole your feathered-boa tail— and on and on. And out of it all, exquisite music and dance, clear university-approved musical concepts and Social-Emotional Learning far beyond any tame textbook-type. 


Each lesson a jewel, because after eight days together, the students understood that I preferred them to be playful from the depths of their own character than serious play-acting some societal norm of the dignified teacher. And so their inner child, their particular genius, their authentic character was not only allowed to come out and play, but actively encouraged. With great results, both musical and personal. There was so much love in that room because after all, wouldn’t we rather see people in their most delightful 8-year old self than in their petrified adult persona? I know I do. 

In the post- Practicum reflection, I drove the point home quoting Andre Gide: “It is better to fail at your own life than succeed in someone else’s.”  And so at an age when you would think I would have grown up, I still claim my naughty (but responsible) eight-year old self as the life I was meant to lead and the one I plan on continuing to. And bringing along anyone else along for the ride who gets how damn fun it all is! Climb aboard!

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