A week in…

…school and I am still busy with the fretwork of calendars and class schedules and launching new learning teams. “So much depends / upon / a red notebook / glazed with thinking / besides the straight desks.”  Amidst all the externals of a school, it can sometimes be daunting to understand when the “real learning” happens.  Where are the exploding light bulbs of incandescent ideas?  Ideas exist in the blank space at the end of a line of poetry; in Shakespeare’s multivalent subtext; within the interplay of form and the shimmering chaos of reality in a painting by Vermeer; and in the infinite space not just at the end of a number line, but in-between any two numbers. The work of learning happens in the space between things, when with a click of recognition a student understands the world in a new way or when a colleague’s unexpected comment sparks a fresh approach for a teacher. Without Dumbledore’s fantastical penseive, how can administrators see students critically thinking or facilitate creativity on the part of faculty?  One way is for us to manage the minutia that allows students to dive into content and teachers to explore big ideas; another is share a serious love of the play of the mind; yet another is to design a place that allows growing bodies and minds to sprawl a bit, a setting safe enough for a ninth grader to bring a ukelele and strum at lunchtime (as happened yesterday at SHC.)  I would like to challenge stale classroom routines that dull the flow of ideas; to invite aporia in along with new technologies, to move the desks out of rows, or even the students out of desks.  Let’s keep the rigor, relevance, and relations of Lasallian education, but with added attention to disruptive ideas and “the ability to look at the ordinary and see the extraordinary,” in Dewitt Jones’ description of creativity.

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