- I saw Jeff Mangum play live. To quote William Miller: “Incendiary.” No division between his voice, his arm, his guitar, his audience. Heart-warming. Life-changing for someone who discovered Neutral Milk Hotel in 2003 and never imagined seeing Jeff Mangum at all. Hopeful and restorative. Art and life at once. Good.
- We got a record player in the house. Our first since we’ve lived together. What I sometimes need from books I forgot that I needed from records. Snapshots of permanence; a fondness to believing that we can share through making. I love the music I’ve downloaded (or I did at one point), but I don’t want to download any more for a while. I feel like a kid and adult all at once. You mean I get to have a record collection? Like the one in the living room on Duck Pond Road?
- I went out to the driveway one night – under a full moon – to watch the Chinese Tiangong and International Space Station fly over Central Virginia, one after another, in the space of ten minutes. My wife tweeted my kids’ greetings to @Cmdr_Hadfield
- Two students in our project-based learning class taught each other the wiring for their MaKey-MaKey-mediated cardboard arcade machines. They got to the same place at the same time , took a look at a few other student0mad machines, and hunkered down with tin foil, tape, cardboard, and circuit boards. The next time I looked they had their control pads roughed out and had tested them on their Scratch games. While I trust that my students can figure out nearly anything, I don’t ever expect them to do so all alone; nevertheless, I am always so excited for them when they join up without me to identify and solve problems related to their work
I feel extremely fortunate to have had each of these experiences; I wish all my kids and all of you the joy and wonder I’ve felt this month.
I think it’s remarkable that one of these experiences happened in school. I think a ratio of one wondrous experience in school to four wondrous experiences in a month is actually pretty good.
I know many of my students struggle to find wonder. I know that joy often escapes them and that when it returns it is suspect.
I would also wager that most students wouldn’t report feeling any wonder at school at all – and that only a few of their accounts could be challenged on the grounds of ennui.
In looking around at the conversations that are just now maturing about education, testing, technology, and finance, and in reconciling where we are with the deep gratitude and appreciation I have for my privilege to work with kids and write about what we do, I’d like to close with this:
It is past time we designed schools to be wondrous places. It is past time we designed schools to keep kids full of wonder. It is past time we taught one another how to wonder again, fearlessly. It is past time we stopped confusing following instructions to complete a project with solving a problem to complete a project. It is past time we stopped confusing people with problems.
The project of education – of humanity itself – is to make a better world.
No amount of obedience will make it so.
For that we need people, and problems, and wonder all together in community, from within and outside the classroom.
Our kids can become our allies. We can teach and learn anywhere. We can go to concerts, geek out, make stuff, look to the stars, and move from wonder to a wondrous world.
So long as we look to each other. So long as we remember that we are all a part of our project.