Chatboards
Mailrings
Classifieds
Lessons
Jobs
Harry Wong
Projects
Live!
Gazette
Advertise
SUBSCRIBE | SUBMIT
Dec 2017
Vol 14 No 4
BACK ISSUES


Reflection in A New Distant Mirror, Or, Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear

By Todd R. Nelson
 



objects in mirrorThe new school year commences. There is new sand in the sandbox, and new sandbox players in their new sneakers—the faces of the future at play just outside my principal’s office window. I cherish all the hopeful possibilities of their giggles, and squabbles. The life of the sandbox seems halcyon and the future far off. But I think we could re-examine it in a way that brings it nearer. It’s right here, right now if you use a special lens.

At Back to School night this year, I’ll ask the parents of these sandbox players to adopt the lens of a unique vantage point. From my pulpit, I will invite them to consider two things: marriage and grandchildren, which are, by definition, a look to the future.

“Dearly beloved. Imagine that we are gathered at a celebration of love, joy, and families uniting with their two young people who have decided to get hitched,” I will say. “Imagine yourself standing at your child’s wedding. The occasion is the grand commitment of one person to another: Partnering, coupling, marrying.” Now we are looking out from the future.

Anyone can do use this lens to examine the young school year. You’ll see a benchmark beyond the customary ones, the entry to middle school, high school, or college; beyond career explorations. Your child is finding a soul mate. Is your sandbox now in fresh, sharp focus?

“Soul Mate 101” is not in the core curriculum of any states, and certainly not a common Back to School Night topic. Yet there are very concrete hopes and achievements embedded in this moment. It gives us a conscientiousness that we can savor now with power, specificity, and certainty.

How shall we meet the needs of these children as we look back from their future; from our future? What would you like to be able to say about your child’s character, ability to lovingly bond with a partner, or their competence and joy as a young parent presenting you with, say, a grandchild? What kind of parent will you have raised when a new generation in your family arrives?

Wasn’t it just this morning that you worried about their friendships in kindergarten? “Does my little Imogene have a best friend?” And then comes,  “How will Max fair in the transition to middle school?” Egad: math placement tests! Ability grouping! Then SATs, recommendations, and applications to college. Resume building! Graduation! Job interviews. Now this!”

Relax. As parents and educators, marriage and child rearing are what we’ve been tacitly preparing for, but rarely discussing. It’s pushed to the background. Herein dwell life success and succession, accomplishment and fulfilling relationships. They require different skills from the intellectual ones posited by education reform, new apps of all kinds, the myriad proliferating school choices, and data-driven teaching. We’ve grown accustomed to thinking ahead only in terms of the technical, so-called 21st century skills to be required of our children in careers “that have yet to be invented.”

The ultimate goal line is to lead fulfilling lives, to renew wonderful families, communities, and the joys of parenting. Though marriage and parenting seem distant, if we include them in our core curriculum we live in a kind of simultaneity with the present and future possibilities. As a new distant mirror, the future is a more effective one. Our best possible selves are in the reflection.

Fortunately, qualities of character and values are easy to identify. They need not be invented. We already know the kind of families, communities, and societies we’d like to inhabit. What we hope for our children is the same as what we’re trying to achieve now. It’s what the future needs more than ever.

Sponsoring a healthy sandbox will have more to do with each child’s success than many a math test or entrance exam. And, according to research, more to do with their effectiveness in future workplaces guaranteed to emphasize teamwork and group decision making over the discrete intellectual prowess of individuals. We should divest ourselves of the consolation of the numerical data—like those math placement tests, and “Adequate Yearly Progress.”

What today’s kids will need in an inchoate future is the lessons from that sandbox: honest and accurate communications, sharing, humor, fairness, and joy. A healthy sandbox includes predictable sponsoring of everyone’s ideas and success; taking pleasure in one another’s strengths and respect for challenges. Aren’t these the qualities of life partnership and parenting?

Todd Nelson latestI hope today’s negotiations for space, sharing the dump truck, or imagining the bridge- and tunnel-building partnership between young Imogene and Max will be the most enriched, powerful, and far-reaching learning possible—achievements we’ll expect to celebrate in future rituals. The hypothetical wedding is a good vantage point, if only in our imagination. But that’s where the future starts. Suffice to say, good marriages begin in the sandbox, as did your good grandparenting.

About the author
Todd R. Nelson is Principal of Brooksville Elementary School in Brooksville, Maine.

 

 



Comment on this article...

Next Article...
 
This entry was posted on Friday, August 1st, 2014 and is filed under *ISSUES, August 2014, Todd Nelson. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
Teachers.Net Gazette Vol.11 No.8 August 2014

Harry & Rosemary Wong
Effective Teaching
More Teacher Articles...
»Silver Linings Textbook?Sharon Thomas
»How a Shoe Can Teach ResponsibilityMarjan Glavac
»10 Timely Tips for the First Days of SchoolHarry K. & Rosemary Wong
»Danger! How Assuming That Students Understand Our Words Fails ThemSusan Fitzell
»What Poor Teachers Can Teach UsAlan Haskvitz
»How to Help Kids Overcome School PhobiaLeah Davies, M.Ed.
»2 Network Tools: Privatize and ScreenmailerInternet Scout Report
»Reflection in A New Distant Mirror, Or, Objects in the mirror are closer than they appearTodd R. Nelson
»Film School: Why "We watched a movie" Is A-OKSharon Thomas
»The Teacher Who Couldn't ReadOwen M. Griffith
»Creating a Safe Space in your ClassroomLinn Conway
»Learning is Complex - Standardized Tests Should Be, TooLeticia Aguirre
»Ice Breaker for a New School YearNews Desk
»Community College Pathways: Summative Assessments and Student LearningInternet Scout Report
»And You Wonder Why We're Not Respected?Linda R. Young
»Report Reveals Need for Better Advising on College Major SelectionNews Desk
»August Is... Special Dates for the MonthRon Victoria
»Apple Seed Quotes for EducatorsBarb Stutesman
»Printables Ready To Go - Pre-k - 12Teachers.Net Resources

By State
AL   AK   AZ   AR   CA   CO   CT   DE   DC   FL   GA   HI   ID   IL   IN   IA   KS   KY   LA    ME   MD   MA   MI   MN   MS   MO   MT   NE   NV   NH   NJ   NM   NY   NC   ND   OH   OK   OR   PA   RI   SC   SD   TN   TX   UT   VT     VA   WA   WV   WI   WY