It’s there. But it’s hidden. We taught them to hide it. It no longer fit, so we made them put it away. It gave way to things more serious, things more conventional, things more traditional, things…well, more academic. And so, they tucked it away. And by the time they reach us in high school, it’s almost as if it never existed. We no longer ask for it. They haven’t used it for years. But it’s there. And if we give them the opportunity, it can be found; it can be used; it can be saved. Kids have a world in them. People have a world in them. But we make them trade it in for a world that’s designed to fit all, and in the end, it fits no one. And so the world within gets tucked away to make room for the world without. But the world within is there, a world of wonder, a world of imagination, a world of wisdom. It is not gone; it is only hidden, lost. But that which is lost need only be found.
She’s a quiet kid. A hidden kid. A lost-in-the-system kid. But lost is found, for she broke free from the bonds, and she reminded me of the worlds that exist within, and she is lost no more.
Sitting in my truck in the tiny town of Harrington, Washington waiting for my son to get done with piano practice, reading my students’ narrative essays, I discovered Evette’s world within. I have found her, and what I found rocked my world. Below is her conclusion to her experience of losing a friend to suicide in middle school.
“Even though I can’t go back to that tree physically, I return to it every day mentally…” And the world within emerges. And Evette’s world is but one of the many into which I have been invited. But that invitation requires opportunity, an opportunity to share, an opportunity for one to find her voice, for one to share her voice. Evette will never again be the quiet girl in the corner who diligently does her work. She is a giant and I can’t wait to share with her this morning that I hear her, that I see her. I see her, and she was in front of me all along. I just had to open my eyes.
Each day in 211 as part of our mindset mantra we say, “We are writers.” Each day we say it. Each day we hear it. And I like to think that each day, we are closer to believing it. But believing it means that we have to give kids opportunities to rediscover their voices that have been drowned out by the noise of the factory model that churns out writing but does little to nurture the writers. I am seeking to change that, and in her reflection, Evette demonstrated that she is growing accustomed to a world that focuses on the writer, not just the writing.
I could not have scripted it better. And I am heartened that, like Evette, many of my kids are making the same discovery. We are all making discoveries. Of course, they are not entirely new; many are simply a result of the opportunity to open our eyes, which has allowed us to see or remember what’s been there all along.
Along today’s trail we will…
…begin with Smiles and Frowns.
…continue drafting descriptions.
…reflect in our Journey Journals.
…end with Sappy Sy Rhyme.
Happy Monday, all.
Do. Reflect. Do Better.