Friday, February 24, 2012

Only Partnership Is Real

Even "soloists" need partners, those people behind the scenes, backstage or at home who support us in our endeavors. None of us are islands, indeed psychologists say its a warning sign when humans cut themselves off from other people. We make movies about heroic loners, but in real life those stories are always tragedies.

When a child spends a good part of his morning, apparently alone, creating something he calls "The City of Manitoba," we see the support of friends and family in his creation, in his work that is an abstraction of the real thing. You do not get from plastic blocks to the City of Manitoba without loving people showing you maps, discussing roads, answering questions about buildings and grids and scale. The city he's created may not be real, but the experience of partnerships is.

When a collective of princesses sit down together and plan to build a zoo, they're entering into a kind of contractual arrangement in which the give and take of agreement is the currency. There's no need to say "Let's pretend . . ." because, after all, it's not really about the facsimile zoo they're building, but rather the real cooperative relationships they're creating, the experiment in partnership. And together they build a great thing from these meager plastic blocks, a success upon which to build the future.

And when agreement is hard to come by, when we can't decide if what we're making is a playground or a school, partnership requires that we talk, and sometimes talk and talk and talk. This is not pretend, this exercise in persuasion. Let's pretend it's a school, okay? We learn to look into their faces, to make eye contact, to smile, to show goodwill, and to compromise. This part is the school and this part is the playground. Yeah!

Our friendships, our marriages, our relationships with our children, this is what stands at the core of a "successful" life. The rest of it is an abstraction; only partnership is real.

I put a lot of time and effort into this blog. If you'd like to support me please consider a small contribution to the cause. Thank you!
Bookmark and Share


Mullin Avenue Workshop said...

Thanks for this post, Teacher Tom, some thoughtful observations here!
As usual I've visited you to leave with food for thought, and an uplifted spirit!

sachauncey said...

I am a new reader who came across your blog via a post on Play mentioned in the curation site ScoopIt. Thank you for writing about your adventures with the children in your preschool. I hope these children and their parents know how very lucky they are to have you as their teacher.