I wrote a blog post while I was on Mackinac Island for the Summer MRA conference. The Internet ate it. So I am trying to reconstruct it here. The original post was inspired and perfect, of course (LOL). But I do recall what inspired the post to begin with and about where I headed and ended up. So, bear with me as my brain tries to pull it all back together.
As I was reading my Twitter feed, I came across this link: http://www.chriscrutcher.com/forrest-bird-charter-school.html. It is well worth the time to read the graduation speech delivered by Chris Crutcher just a few weeks ago. I love so many things about this speech. First, there is the voice: I can hear Crutcher so clearly as I read these words. I love that his ten commandments actually number 13, so we have wiggle room. There is just something about this that is reassuring, comforting, and inspiring. How often are we given wiggle room, I wonder? Here are the rules, but feel free to follow MOST of them and not all of them? I do this often in my writing. I know the rules, but sometimes breaking them leads to better (IMHO) writing, at least a better writing experience. Do we afford the same wiggle room to our kids? I am trying more and more to do this in my classes. I tend to be fairly prescriptive and that makes work more restrictive. So, I have been giving some thought to changing things for the fall semester: building in more wiggle room.
Now, on some of the more specific advice from this speech by Crutcher. I particularly admire #8 about celebrating relativity. It is tough sometimes to remember that there is no laughter without tears, no joy without pain, no fear without courage. I woke up in the middle of the night because I heard my BH talking to someone on the phone. He was calling security because the house a street down from ours was in flames. We stood on our porch watching the flames spin higher and higher, listening to glass shattering and the whoosh as something else flared. I sat outside a while longer watching the water gradually put out the flames, watching the firefighters work (and, then, of course, coming inside to work instead of going back to sleep). There is no gain without loss.
This is not balance, folks; it is reality relativity. I couple this bit of advice with the latest censorship challenge to Laurie Halse Anderson's SPEAK. And this piece from Patrick Ness: http://www.guardian.co.uk/childrens-books-site/2013/jul/11/young-adult-books-classification-debate. I think we need to let kids see the pain and the darkness and the anger and betrayal and destruction and more. I would prefer that they see them within the safe confines of a book, too. I think reading helps prepare them for the relativity thing Crutcher is referring to.
Finally, there is the 12th commandment: "Twelve: The American Dream was never meant to be accumulation of great riches or great power. Your forefathers did not care if you got rich. They did not proclaim for you, “Life, liberty and the pursuit of ‘stuff’.” All the clichés you hear about what money cannot buy – love, happiness, respect, dignity, grace – are clichés for a reason."
Thanks, Chris, for allowing kids to mull over the "rules," and for acknowledging that we can break them (except for the one about hitting your kids) and still be okay.