673. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.
Avalon disappeared into the mists of time. It is there, or so we are told, but it is out of reach to we mere mortals. In the age of reason the mystery retreated to the other side of the veil. I thought of that as this afternoon we drove through fields shrouded in fog towards a rural elementary school. We were visiting Melissa’s classroom; a place alive with magic and excitement and the vitality that is present wherever true learning is taking place. If magic survives beyond the veil then Melissa’s classroom is a portal to that sacred place.
Tom once told me, “You will know when you are doing important work by the size of the tide that rises against you.” Melissa is doing important work and is standing tall despite the towering wave that crashes over her (and every teacher in the nation) everyday when she asks, “Why are we doing this? What does this test or this shabby curriculum have to do with learning?” She asks and others turn away. She is the voice in the crowd that says, “This emperor has no clothes!” And like the child in the story, the truth-teller is shunned initially, hushed by the adults who are too afraid to say, “We know. We see it, too.”
There are plenty of teachers and administrators and parents and business leaders that see it, too. There are many conversations about fixing things. There are endless strategies and punitive measures to raise standards though no one is certain what standards we are raising (hint: test scores have nothing to do with learning; neither do lists or rankings or any other from of measurement). On the surface we are expert at finger pointing and assigning blame and still the emperor prances naked through the streets.
And beneath it all is Melissa and scores of educators like her that know the system as dictated to them is doing the opposite of what it professes. So, she wades into the muck everyday and ignites imaginations and encourages her students to explore, pursue, experiment and make messes. Her students make choices (they control themselves because she teaches them to be powerful): they are engaged in a quest of discovery. Her students are excited to come to school because what they do is real; unlike most of the adults who should be lobbying for their betterment, they are very clear and vocal about what has merit and what has little or no value.