(Image by Denise Carbonell,
used under Creative Commons guidelines)

Our son is definitely the most private person in our little three-person family. He will only wear shorts if they fall well below his knees. He has forbidden us to use the word “bath” in public. It’s an instinctive thing with him. When we first explained the concept of privacy to him – he was probably about three years old then – his affect was one of relief and deep recognition. He might as well have said, “Oh, that’s what you call it!” It was clear that the concept was something he already had an intuitive sense of; he just hadn’t had the language until that moment.

As a third grader, I was passionately curious about codes and secret languages. I invented my own alphabet. (Geek points: I can still recite it!) I taught myself how to fingerspell from the line drawings of the ASL alphabet in our World Book Encyclopedia. But I was never able to find anyone else who cared quite as much about that world, and so I eventually moved on to other things. No click.

My life experience – maybe most people’s? – has included multiple instances of feeling cut off or estranged from the broader stream of life; like many people, I have a deep appreciation and longing for moments of connection. I tell the students in my life that if they blog, I’ll subscribe, so my incoming stream is slowly but surely starting to include the voices of these intrepid young people:

Best life lessons: It’s really is all about who you are with, no matter where you are or what you’re doing. It’s totally acceptable to not have it all figured out yet. You’re never too old to change your life. Career, marriage, and kids are not the end all be all. You’re 56 and want to go abroad with your husband? Do it! We met them in Cambodia. You’re 28 and don’t have a college degree, have been traveling for the past 3 years and want to travel for 3 more? That’s okay! We met her in Vietnam!

(Excerpted from a cross-posted entry of Sarah & Arielle’s. Click.)

I can’t even say how much I am glad I did this show. I learned a lot, and some of it was awesome, and some of it made me want to rip my hair out. But I liked it so much that I think I’ve found the path I want to explore after college.

(Excerpted from Beauty and the Beast. Click.)

As an educator, I am excited about the possibility of helping our students build their capacity for connecting. I love witnessing someone experience that click as they find some of the deepest parts of themselves reflected in the world around them. Especially now that the world around them can be so much more than the world of their family, or school, or hometown.

And I wonder: is it an accident that so many of the examples I come across have little or no connection to institutionalized learning?

Anyway, beginning tomorrow I’ll be a worry-free second semester senior. This will be the first time in my life that I will have the chance to learn for the sake of it. No pressure about advancing to the next class or worrying about what college will choose me…they’ll make their decisions based upon my first semester. Essentially, I’ll be living the good life.

(Excerpted from Welcome to the Good Life. Click.)

What are the necessary conditions for these clicks of recognition, discovery, and engagement? How can we foster moments in which students see, hear, read, feel, or experience something which causes them to think, “Hey! That’s like ME!” Or moments in which they try something new and are surprised to find themselves thinking, “I could happily do this all day.”

Are our learning communities focused on maximizing these clicks? What would they look like if they were?

(As usual, more questions than answers. 😀
This post is accompanied
by a warm shout-out for M.E. Steele-Pierce,
Asst. Superintendent and #edcamp Wonder Woman,
whose recent fantastic post on revolutionary professional learning
effectively bought me the time to work on these musings.
She’s @steelepierce on Twitter, & you should
follow her up if you haven’t already done so.)


Posted on March 10, 2011, in big picture. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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