Friday, May 23, 2014

A Place Beyond Our Comprehension

If you take all the colored cubes in the box and lay them end to end, they will reach from one end of our classroom to the other.

The discovery will make us cheer for ourselves, for one another, for the proof of our suppositions, for accomplishment, for knowledge.

Our cheer won't necessarily be loud or sustained, but it will be a genuine expression of how we feel about ourselves, markedly missing the phony "Good job!" or "You're awesome!" or "Super Star!" found on those stickers at the top of worksheets.

We might call out to the nearest adult, "We used all the blocks!" or "We made it across the whole room!" but please don't mistake it as a cry for validation. We already know what we've done. We're just sharing a little good news. It's not the first nor the last time we will do it on this day.

This is not the only time this discovery has been made at Woodland Park or, I imagine, at any preschool that has a box of colored cubes and the time and space to explore. But it is the first time for these children who, when finished, took that moment to celebrate then moved on, in the spirit of a journey. They had protected their efforts, sometimes fiercely, from the encroachments of others, but now the fruits of their labor are left to the whims of the travelers who come after them.

Every generation worries about the one that comes after it; worries that they will somehow become lost in their journey from here to there, that they will wind up in the wilderness, abandoned and alone. And the truth is that they are headed for the wilderness and there's really nothing we can do to prevent that, nor should we even if we could. It's their job. It has always been the responsibility of the young to explore the unknown places as the old timers fret. 

We see them lining up those colored cubes the way we once did our playthings and, because it looks familiar, we assume they are following in our footsteps, but make no mistake, they are on a journey like no other in the history of mankind, heading to a place beyond our comprehension.

Face it, no one knows where they are going. We choose a direction and start taking steps, hopefully in the company of others, wending and winding our way as circumstances and whims guide our feet. Every now and then we look around and let out a little cheer for where we've found ourselves, then we start taking steps again, always heading in the direction of the wilderness.

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1 comment:

Mrs. F said...

Love this! Every year my first graders make the same discovery that they can line up all the cubes and reach across the room. They are so proud of their accomplishment that, of course, they are sad to have to clean it up and start over the next day. So each day they work a little smarter, saving big chunks of cubes intact and assembling the structure more efficiently. They each take on a job. The next thing I know they have roped cubes around the perimeter of the classroom, measuring the distance in feet, estimating the number of cubes all total, and creating patterns. My favorite part, though, is to watch is them working together.