Yet another glorious day working with children. This one at St. Andrew’s school in Bangkok. Games, songs, dances, Orff instrument ensemble with classes ranging from pre-k to grade 8, each one without exception fulfilling my standard for success— both the students and the teacher left the class happier than when they walked in.
But that was just the warm-up. The happiness quotient increased exponentially when I did an hour long class for the staff of the school. I was mightily impressed by their willingness to sing, to dance, to make letter shapes with their whole bodies, to spell words with their whole bodies in groups of four, to create little performances based on rhyming opposites, to play the marvelous Stations game in which they come up with words from one letter— like “Tina Turner teaching Tai-Chi to turtles”— and silently act it out to my piano music. The room was a-buzz with laughter, delight, appreciation of each other’s notable creativity and not a second passed where people itched to look at their phones or wondered how many more slides in the Powerpoint. In short, it was so much damn fun!
And as if that weren’t enough (it is!), all activities were things they could translate to their classroom and do with their kids, all of them are proven to increase kids understanding, motivation, self-confidence,. And yet more perks— teachers working together, playing together, discovering things about each other that they never have learned nor could learning sitting around the oh-so-tedious agenda.
I could not praise them enough. That spirit of adults in a living, loving, trusting, imaginative and creative community together has receded further and further away in the current “gotach” climate, the endless national standards, the well-meaning but so ineffective trainings about what’s acceptable that has everyone tiptoeing around on eggshells, that increasingly top-down management from a bulky administration. People, people, people! Can’t we just have fun together? Relax a bit? And when serious trespasses occur, not consult a script, but actually sit down and talk. And combine it with singing and dancing to put it all into the larger context of shared humanity.
I know it’s possible. I lived a community like that for some 30 of my 45 years teaching and lived
it again today. And believe you me, it was glorious.