"The free play of art is the result of mastery. " --Ernst Fischer, The Necessity of Art

"Children are likely to live up to what you believe of them." --Ladybird Johnson

"...a well-trained ear, a well-trained intelligence, a well-trained heart, and a well-trained hand...." --Zoltan Kodaly


Learning from others..

Yesterday, I watched someone dear to me receive news which was hard to hear.

She received the news with dignified acceptance, and with warmth towards the news-bearer. That kind of strength of character can only come from a lifetime of responding to each day's challenges with grace-- from building that strength throughout the press of daily details. (In this instance, that would be for more than eighty years!)

That's how I want to live my life--that's how I want to respond to the challenges of teaching, of living: as opportunities to build the kind of strength of character which will enable me to respond to life with dignity, warmth and grace.

...and with gratitude for the gift of knowing others who are already walking that path with style.


Character and education

"...learning is hard. True, learning is fun, exhilarating and gratifying — but it is also often daunting, exhausting and sometimes discouraging. . . . To help chronically low-performing but intelligent students, educators and parents must first recognize that character is at least as important as intellect.” --Angela Duckworth

Discussing the impact of character on academic (and life!) success, this article is a long but interesting (and thought-provoking) read. Well worth the time, I think.

What do you think? Should schools focus on inculcating character in the emotional and academic development of their students?

Reality Check

It seems to me that this is all about figuring out what's most important, and pouring focus, energy, commitment, and resources there.

Which means being willing to take a long hard look at what's already actually happening. Not what I believe to be happening, or what I intended, but what's going on right now in my classroom.

The spirit & attitude with which I handle the incredible gift of working with young, creative, active students can help to propel us--my students and myself-- into creative growth or spiral us downward into apathetic flatlining.

For me, at least, it takes an ongoing willingness to choose to grow: to find the resources which help me to sustain energy in the midst of many needs/finite time; to seek out ways to help me to focus on what truly matters and to assess whether that is what I'm actually teaching; to hone my skills and stretch my mind's flexibility in the midst of the daily demands of teaching.

Seth Godin (my favorite business writer) talks about this process as being willing to look at 'the truth just around the corner'. (Read the post here.)

September tends to be a month when the delight, the demands, the responsibilities and the daily realities of teaching are condensed. It helps me to remember, in the midst of all of this, that being able to do this work that I love, within a community that is vibrantly alive, is a tremendous amount of work, an incredible gift, and an opportunity to stretch myself to grow.

We're all students.


Working to make it right

Seth Godin's take on the structure, function and philosophy of our current education system neatly compacts nearly a century of public school education in a few short paragraphs. He articulates a common understanding of the institution of public education as shaped by the financial needs of our country, rather than the educational needs of our citizens.

I think this is a fairly accurate assessment for much of our public school system--but not for all. Even within a system that is largely failing, there are many schools that are getting it right.

Of course, it should be ALL of the schools that are getting it right.

That would be why we're working so hard to make it right.

What's your opinion? Read the full article here.