Finding little sparks of magic…
When was the last time you thought of learning as magical? From the day to day demands laid on so many educators, myself included, I can see how this might be a challenging concept. From paperwork to teaching to the test, sometimes the joy that inspired our teaching careers falls by the waysides. Pages is a program that reminds me that inspiring a culture where students CARE about what they’re doing can bring a little spark of that magic back into the classroom.
Pages is an experience that mystifies my students like no other. Mere mortal educators and artists become mythical creatures. “When is Dionne coming in again?” “Remember those collages we made with April?” “Bobby was so cool. I follow him on Instagram…” “Alexis is coming? What are we going to do this time?”
There’s a kinetic buzz in the room when we’re talking about Pages. The most noticeable of these experiences was this past week during our post-visit about Jaamil Olawale Kosoko’s performance piece “Seancers”, a breathtaking journey that, at times, pushed even me to my limits.
During the post-visit, my 9th graders had assembled a circle with Alexis Wilson leading a discussion from the center. Alexis probed for reactions to Kosoko’s piece. The discussion came to life as students began recounting their favorite moments and analyzing the possible meanings behind the way Kosoko had constructed each dynamic scene.
Alexis turned the discussion towards a particular moment in Kosoko’s performance in which he was lying on the floor, entangled in a heap of different materials, squirming for release. Students talked about the possibilities of meaning behind this scene: perhaps Kosoko intended to represent how he feels trapped by different things in society, maybe he is showing how he is “suffocated by his silence”.
I remember the graceful silence in the room as the students spoke. There was unspoken respect for the ideas shared and created in that circle. My students, just 14 and 15 years old, were articulating big, complicated ideas that some adults would even struggle with. Pages gave them the allowance to do that.
My challenge, from Dionne, of course, is to find ways to recreate this magic in my day to day life as an educator. To find topics and activities that my students care about. To trust my students with tough topics that, while, not exactly easy to talk about, are entirely relevant to their lives. I have some ideas, some little swirls of magic dancing around in my mind. However, it isn’t enough for just my students to experience this kind of learning. I challenge you- yes, you, reading this- to bring some magic into your classroom, too.