Fill the Vessel

Educators look for reasons to be disappointed.  I don’t know why this is exactly, but I have my hunches.  Education is a calling to the work of filling the vessels of others.  Over the decades of public education we have followed an industrialized model.  A child walks into a factory of standardized expectations, is “molded” into the quality controlled widget and leaves with the expectation they will find somewhere to “fit” in.

We know this from well versed educational historians.  It was a model that served us well, but it no longer is plausible. Our raw material is deeply complex and demands individualization, while at the same time finds it difficult to focus on just one thing. The “machine” we are expecting them to fit into now is fluid, organic and complex.

Teachers become teachers because they want to make a difference…they believe that difference is to “mold” young minds, to “fill” their minds.  However, the job is to engage not just student’s comprehension of informational text, but their spirit for learning.

Where were those college classes?

If we find the calling, to fill a vessel, we need to embrace the notion that the vessel does not need content; the vessel needs value, passion and authenticity.  When I read Sir Ken Robinson’s The Element,     for the fourth time, I was struck with this notion.  When I looked at the foundation of the new Common Core Standards which is driving many new developments in education, I was struck with this notion.

Artists see the world this way implicitly as much as explicitly.  By that I mean, we create artwork via the desire to know ourselves better.  We solve problems by engaging with the problem, from seeing it from various vantage points. We may be fatigued with the process, but we never grow weary of the work because we value it.  We value it because we see ourselves in it, we find it authentic.  Others just see our work, but our work cannot reach an audience without this implicitly of it.

Rather than developing a slew of “programmatic” systems to facilitate the Common Core Standards, I hope the real revolutionaries out there stand up and take hold of this golden opportunity.  Arts integration has spent enough time on the “Today’s Special” portion of the menu in educational circles.

As children, we all had an “artist” mind.  It is the magic of being “human.”  I support Sir Ken in his call to “revolution.”  Click Here.  And when I shared this with my staff during professional development this week, and asked them to discuss what they would do to engage their students’ Element, there was a spark, a spirit, a glimmer…

When I suggested that we rethink what we fill the vessel with…they nodded…but you could tell they were challenged to see how to do this. I suggested they start with themselves…I challenge all of us to find that which drives us, that which gives us pure bliss and honor it by doing it every day.  And if you have the fortunate opportunity to foster this in a child, count yourself lucky.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Susan