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The Guards at Their Gates: Morning Minutes, February 9, 2016

If you’re not feeling a little anxiety about your project, then you are not challenging yourself.

Yesterday, as I introduced our third independent learning project, I threw a wrench in the works, challenging my kids to step out of their comfort zones, asking them to confront one of their fixed mindsets this time around. And though there was some initial groaning and whining, it gradually subsided as kids began to ponder the possibilities.  Of course, as always, I put myself out there first, sharing that I would be stepping way out of my comfort zone by attempting to draw my grandpa’s barn, a direct challenge to my “I-can’t-draw” mindset.  In fact, this time, instead of posing a question to guide our work, we have to make “I-can” statements, which will become our individual guiding mantras as we progress through the stages of our doubt and discomfort with these projects. So, then, my mantra will be, “I can draw my grandpa’s barn.”  And believe me, I will have to chant that over and over again this month as I fight off the little voice perched on my left shoulder telling me that I can’t.

Of course, as I somewhat expected, the kids still are reluctant to trust that I am giving them the freedom to make their own big-girl and big-boy choices.  Yes, I have placed a requirement, a limit in the form of challenging a fixed mindset, but they still have a great deal of independence with their projects. Even so, they–understandably, I guess–still seek my approval.  I get it.  They have been trained to seek approval and it is sometimes harder to unlearn than learn, so I humor them and help them.  Kind of.  For the past two projects, my response to their “is-my-project-okay” inquiries has been, “Are you genuinely interested in your topic?” This time it is, “Are you feeling any anxiety about your choice?”  Both require “yes” answers.  Both require that they alone make the decision.  I cannot neither tell them they are interested nor can I tell them they are anxious.  They, as I say, are the guards at that gate.  I tell them, too, that they could completely BS me, but really in the end, they are only BS-ing themselves.  It is my letting go.  It is my helping them discover that anything authentic in our lives can really only be determined by us, for we alone can only know if something is true. We are behind our own wheels, driving to our own destinations, and our learning, our education is no exception.  I hope my kids are beginning to believe that. Truly they are the guards at their gates.

Have a splendid Tuesday, all.  Please check out the Monthly Topic if you have not had a chance yet (  Even better, join the conversation by leaving a comment.


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