…I have not blogged, letting a couple of months pass, to clear the shatter of thoughts and feelings tied up with leaving formal ed, waiting, too, for the language to wash over me that could explain where I am and where I’m going. I searched for the words during three weeks with family in Europe and continue to look for them as I weed my vegetable and flower gardens, walk the dog, watch the wildlife raise their young in the fields and woods beyond the house. It’s taking a while to shake the frustration of failing on the inside, about not doing more over nineteen years than help a handful of students trust their creative selves and stop waiting for direction and correction from some external authority.
As excited as I am about my new path into informal learning across a community rather than throwing myself at the walls of the limiting structure of academic institutions, I am sad about giving up. About losing faith. About saying goodbye to my students. And I’m angry. About a lot of what goes on (or doesn’t go on) in formal education. And about the self-congratulatory nature of our institutions of higher learning. I find it galling that during my daughter’s graduation, the presidents of both her college and its umbrella university blamed plugged-in-ness for a lack of time for contemplation, introspection or creativity. What about how we overload our students (and ourselves) with assignments (“if this is Tuesday we’re reading Ulysses” kind of attitude) and the umpteen required courses and the whole notion of majors, and insist on building resumes of activity and accomplishment? How do faculty (and university presidents) build time into syllabi for such introspection, contemplation and creativity? Noodling? Open-ended thinking and conversation? Creative connections? Hmmmm…. How easy to blame iPods and cellphones and virtual worlds and video games for our own lack of balance, our own failure to go into the woods, our inability to quiet ourselves down. Schools are all about noise.
I’m tired of writing angry. Frustrated. Negative. And so I have stayed off-blog. Thinking. Feeling. Planning. Noodling. Doing. Tweeting. But not sharing writing longer than 140 characters at a stretch. Not until now. This morning when I whined a bit on Twitter about my lack of posting due to having little positive to say about schools, especially those of a private, liberal arts, expensive nature-Bud Hunt came right out and told me to move past the need to write about formal ed (i.e. get over myself) and write about the new thoughts, the new connections. With that one little nudge, I could feel myself start to shuck that snakeskin of academia and the baggage of nineteen years and be ready to start noodling around out loud about what I’m reading, thinking, dreaming and wondering.
Thanks, Bud. 😉
So here I am:
* Banged up but still breathing after nineteen years in a marginal position within an educational system I no longer believe in.
* Thankful to all of the remarkable young men and women who lit up the classroom over those years, teaching me and themselves as they transcended the limitations of college.
* Jazzed about having this summer to explore my creative work, to think think think, and to connect even more deeply to my family and to the daily rhythms of this glorious piece of land I call home.
* Delighted to stop complaining about the failings of formal education (particularly of higher ed) and instead put my efforts to more positive use by setting up the nonprofit I hope will serve as a nerve center for deep creative learning and connecting using technology within our rural community.
And so here I go, out of school and its mindset, into the summer and into the world.