Though this recipe may not bake everyone’s cake, it captures what is often missing in the compliance-based classrooms that our young find themselves during the pivotal, formative moments of their early lives. And though I get–to some degree–that we need to fold some compliance into the mix, it is too frequently the first and thus primary ingredient in the conventional-cake mold that we attempt to place all kids. And, sadly, by the time they reach us in high school, they have been cast in compliance, with only a sprinkle of creativity to be found, and most of the time it is so sparsely sprinkled that one wonders if it ever made it into the mix at all.

And so, in an effort to rescue, to remedy the recipe we try to work creativity into the mix, but it’s often too late, and we settle for some cheap frosting on the surface, unable to break through the baked-on crust that has enveloped the still-young, but harder to reach spirits that we encounter. With 180, I am trying to breach the crust, to revive within what I believe exists in each, an innate desire to be creative, to be free, to learn, to grow, a desire that has been suppressed by the assembly-line molds in which we place our young as we rush them down the line towards a “real world” that accepts compliance but desires creativity.

And it is here where I believe we miss the mark, where we bake the wrong cakes. We are so steadfast in our belief that things “are as they are” and “will be because they have been” that we cannot see the potential in other paths and possibilities, summarily dismissing them as craziness when and if they do present themselves. And I get it. I think. But I no longer accept it. I took a risk with 180. I changed the recipe. And while it disheartens me that it does not present a cake that is palatable to all, I want to believe that it is the necessary nutriment for those starving for far too long on a compliance-only diet, a reality highlighted by the fact that kids have been so conditioned to eat the compliance cake that when a new item from the menu is placed before them, they deign not touch such a thing so foreign.

And I am not okay with that. I am not okay with a reality where kids only do out of compliance, and I am far-less okay to be a part of a system that perpetuates such an existence. So I changed the recipe. And though some kids still push their plates aside, I figure that whatever compliance I am withholding from their diets in room 211 is being more than made up for in their hourly feedings as they move from room to room, on bells, sitting in seats, looking forward, paying attention, not talking…complying, starving while eating the only diet they’ve ever known. It’s time to change the recipe.

Happy Tuesday, all. Change the recipe.