Gratitude to Wild Beings, our brothers, teaching secrets,
freedoms, and ways; who share with us their milk,
self-complete, brave and aware
in our minds so be it.
--Gary Snyder from 'Prayer for the Great Family'
This bit of poem made me think of my kids, who are true Wild Beings in the best sense of the phrase. All kids are. They truly are self-complete and brave because those qualities have not been conditioned out of them yet. The recent birthdays have brought the whole 'growing up' thing up to the surface for me and I've been thinking about it a lot. I love that they're growing up. I dread that they're growing up. Will they trade imagination for knowledge? Will they trade wildness for conformity? I sure as hell hope not! I have a big job ahead of me, that's for sure.
OM and I were talking about education the other day on our outstanding field trip to Seahurst Park (pics will be below in a second, just let me finish my sermon). I think that for a school to be good, it really just needs to have staff members that are nice to kids, who nurture and encourage their passions (or help them find a passion that's not a mf'-in' video game), and provide a safe and welcoming school climate. I'm mostly talking about middle school, since that's where I work. I think the 'education' part is good enough at most schools. We spend a lot of time trying to improve education, blah blah, improve teaching, blah blah, and improve kids. BLAH! Most of this nonsense is aimed at improving test scores, if we're being honest here. If our kids get high test scores they can go to awesome colleges (and we can make our neighbors jealous with the braggin' rights), get sweet high-payin' jobs and buy a big ass house and fill it up with fancy bullshit. And it feels so much like this is our society; this is what our society values. It's crazy. OM and I talk about how sometimes it feels like we're the little girl in 'The Emperor's New Clothes' who points out that the emperor is NAKED. Why does it feel like the majority of those around us (especially in the community in which we work) don't see it? Weird.
It's sad to me that wildness, as in kids using their Wild Mind (also a Gary Snyder concept that he spoke about at length when I heard him talk a few years ago), is not highly valued, or revered even. I think about the amazing teachers at my school, there are many. It's a staff of smart people who are thinkers. And dreamers. They do what they can, but there is a lot of mandatory stuff they have to cover, which replaces what they'd like to teach, I'm sure. Many of our teachers have rebel spirits, wild minds and they find a way. But you won't find 'nurturing the wild mind' as a Benchmark or Standard anywhere. Too bad.
At Seahurst Park, OM and I marveled at the children. There were kids from about 5 or 6 different families all working together on a big project to dam up the little stream that ran into the sound, diverting the water into another portion of the stream with the goal being, I think, to make a bigger waterfall. The kids were determined. They were cooperative. They helped each other. They connected. They might have been mostly strangers to each other but it didn't matter. They were a community. Everyone had a job, a purpose. Everyone was allowed to help. No one argued or bickered. And they worked on it for hours. It was awesome to behold:
Here's Gino with his "dam special muck":
The kids had an excellent time, one they won't soon forget. In our minds, so be it.