February 4

To grit or not to grit

I just finished reading this article, entitled “What’s Missing When We Talk About Grit.” The thoughts shared by the author, Luke Reynolds, echo some of the reflections I have done recently. He describes the fervor with which “grit” was embraced, how it became the panacea for all ills related to disengaged and under-performing students.

As Reynolds sought to employ grit as a motivator in his 7th grade classroom, it didn’t always work. What he discovered is that relationship is what mattered most. Once he established a strong connection with students, then the tenets of grit kicked in. I have similar thoughts about the importance of building trusting relationships with our students, as I describe here.

Reynolds continues his reasoning by discussing the impact of inequality, and steps we all need to take to help rectify this within our communities. In this post, I discuss some of these same ideas, that when students’ needs are not being met in the lowest levels of Maslow’s hierarchy, they are unable to function well academically.

[we] need to get to know every child’s story—to truly understand the context and the struggle that each child lives through

The final point of Reynolds’ argument is we “need to get to know every child’s story—to truly understand the context and the struggle that each child lives through, rather than making assumptions based on generic attributes.” As this article declares, “Why is storytelling so important to the world? It’s our TRUTH.” I explore the question “what is story?” here. The conclusion I draw is that stories tell us many things, and are open to many interpretations, but most importantly, they connect us to each other!

 

 

January 28

What is story?

“We tell ourselves stories in order to live…We look for the sermon in the suicide, for the social or moral lesson in the murder of five. We interpret what we see, select the most workable of the multiple choices. We live entirely, especially if we are writers, by the imposition of a narrative line upon disparate images, by the ‘ideas’ with which we have learned to freeze the shifting phantasmagoria which is our actual experience.” ~ from The White Album, by Joan Didion

This epigraph is found at the beginning of one chapter in Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air, the book my teenage Meliora students are currently studying. We spent a short time talking about “what is story?” in class, then I asked the students to further explore the question in written essays.

What’s your story by Pixabay shared under a CC0 Creative Commons  license.

Their analysis reinforced my belief that young people are very insightful! A few excerpts from their work:

“They [writers] seek to find meaning and then express it in a way that others can read or hear it and nod, to possibly see through that person’s eyes a degree of their view of life.”

“We tell ourselves stories to find the moral lessons in each tragedy, adventure, romance, and every other form of genre.”

“A story is fiction or nonfiction told to entertain.”

“The beautiful thing about stories is that no two people interpret a story in the same way.”

“People can change the world with the stories they tell or the stories they hear.”

“We strive for people to give us advice through books, so we don’t repeat history.”

“There’s always multiple perspectives to every story, and individuals, such as myself, enjoy hearing all perspectives. In the end, this allows you to get a more complete, in depth story.”

“Not everything happens for a reason and that’s okay, sometimes you’re not sure how to understand what is going on in your story or what is going on in the world but take the time to process it.”

“It makes people ask questions and look for answers in their own lives and inspires new generations of passionate storytellers.”

 

 

April 7

Deeper Learning #3

During the #DLMOOC journey, I learned several things I plan to add to my practice. The one that hit me the hardest was a post by Justin Cook, a leader at the Ontario Alliance of Christian Schools. He states “In order to make culture, we must immerse ourselves in culture with the right postures: critically evaluating and cultivating the cultural gifts history has given us and creating new culture that is inspired by a vision for flourishing.” The overall take-away for me is that schools should have a “story” that guides the students’ learning. Each student weaves strands into the story narrative with the work he/she undertakes. Traditionally, we have often called this focus a “mission statement,” but I much prefer the idea of storytelling.  Peoples (at least until recently) passed many aspects of their culture to future generations through storytelling. Once schools identify their story, they will be able to develop a culture in support of it.

I will be reading Justin’s post (and others he has done) many times, because I glean something new out of each re-reading. A link to the full post is below:

https://plus.google.com/117354818094642376860/posts/ANpuLPLcLSD