Monday, August 13, 2012

On the eve of returning to work, for my daughters, 6 and 9

So.  This is it.  The year of no homework.  The year of no worksheets.  No desks in rows.  This is the year of "what if" instead of simply "what."  After swimming around in our faculty summer reading of Tony Wagner's Creating Innovators, surely we are all ready for a year of igniting creativity, nurturing bravery, and challenging the real or imagined barriers students carry to school.  


It has to be, because this is our chance to leap into whatever magic is through the portal, glittering not so far away.  If we wait, if we hesitate even one day more, the portal will pass and we will be stuck in rows and worksheets and rote memorization and complacency for another school year.

So.  As a parent I will be my children's advocate.  As an educator I will be your children's advocate.

My inspiration for my work this year comes from this poem I found in a book marked for Goodwill, If You're Not Here Please Raise Your Hand, by a former teacher, Kalli Dakos:

"The Wind is Calling Me Away"

How can I sit through one more day,
For the wind is calling me away,
And I want to change with the leaves that fall,
But I'm here in school and I'm missing it all.

While leaves as bright as the sun fly by,
We add, subtract, and multiply,
And none of these numbers makes sense to me,
When the sky is as blue as the summer sea.

Oh, teacher, please let's race the leaves,
Let's jump in piles and climb in trees,
Let's add, subtract, and multiply,
The wind, the leaves, and the deep blue sky.

--Kalli Dakos

And one more, just because in my crusade to make school different, I can't forget about my first passion, the fight to make reading wonderful.

"I Have No Time to Visit with King Arthur"

I have no time to dream a dream,
Or think a splendid thought,
Or visit with King Arthur
In the land of Camelot.

I've underlined one hundred nouns, 
And circled thirty verbs,
While wishing that this workbook
Had a story to its words.

I could travel to another time
With Huck Finn on his raft,
Or read a poem by Silverstein 
That really makes me laugh.

Instead I fill in compound words,
A neverending chore:
How I long to be with Gulliver
On a strange and distant shore!

Nouns and verbs and compound words
Are sad and dull and stale,
Unless they're fired with the spark
Of a mighty, wondrous tale.

--Kalli Dakos