I’ve been away on vacation so my blogging muscle has atrophied. I’m going to try to get back in shape by publishing more frequent, shorter posts.
I actually took two trips over the last two weeks. First, I travelled to Lake George with our four-year-old, Juliet and my sons Patrick and Joseph. We went to a Six Flags Park in Lake George that I used to visit when I was a kid. It used to be called Storytown. Then, we drove down to Orlando and visited Disneyworld with Juliet and her brother and sister, Nicky and Olivia.
I hope readers will indulge me as I offer some musings on these experiences, all of which will relate tangentially to the work that we do as educators.
If you are looking for a place to consider the contrast between the way you see the world and the way kids see the world, Disney is a great place to do it. I like to think that I am adept at thinking like a middle schooler, but I’m constantly confronted with my limitations.
If you ask my four-year-old daughter what she thought of Disney she would likely say the best part was meeting the princesses. She also enjoyed hanging on the ropes that were suspended between poles that are used to herd people like cattle as they wait to board rides, or visit princesses. Juliet really liked hanging from those ropes… probably more than going on the rides.
The older kids of course loved the rides. Danielle doesn’t like the really scary rides so it was my job to accompany the older kids on rides while she visited princesses. I have no problem with scary rides, I’m a middle school principal after all, it doesn’t get much scarier than that. If you look at the photos of us, Nicky and Olivia look either completely terrified or happier than they have ever been in the lives; I look like I’m on jury duty. That’s actually an exaggeration, I really do have fun on rides, but not nearly as much fun as the kids did. While Danielle and I spent our days trying to figure out where we would have our next meal, the kids expended vast reserves of mental energy scheming which ride to take next.
Takeaway: Educators should never take for granted that they know how kids learn, how they feel, how they experience the world. We’re adults, even if we remain in touch with what we were like as kids, the world has changed since we were kids. It’s changed a great deal. This emphasizes the importance of student voice. We can’t know enough about how our students learn and experience the world. Therefore it is imperative that we invite students to have input in the way we help them learn.