Saturday, January 20, 2018

On The Shore of What Is and What Could Be

Brian Crosby’s photographs inspired me again this week, this time on the ageless beauty of the sea and shore. His image at Whitehaven in Cambria spoke of a balance that I wanted to explore. While not revolutionary, I felt it worthy to be considered again. I do try to apply a unique KPop hook at the end, so I hope you’ll stay with me.

Life’s a dance about what we have and are and what we could have or could become:  What Is and What Could Be.

I see our schools are one place where What Is and What Could Be come together on a regular basis. Not the only place, but a consistent one.

What Is

We’re all a part of What Is. Adults and children: every single human alive today. Our kids are living and breathing What Is. Sometimes it’s privilege, comfortable and sure- one’s life is spread out and the way is fairly clear to see. Many times, it’s not. What Is is messy. It’s good times and things, but it’s also stress, poverty, abuse and job loss or underemployment. It’s differing abilities, preferences and creeds. It’s unexpected calamities. More and more, It’s us against them. It’s fear and anger. It’s blaming someone else. Our teachers experience What Is not only in their own lives- their days are spent soaked in the What Is of hundreds of people. Day in. Day out.

In the midst of What Is, our schools seek to guide young minds to the the concept of something of fluid (and some feel, scary) power: What Could Be.

What Could Be

Today, teachers have technologies and pedagogies (the fancy word for “ways of teaching”) that could lead to amazing advancements in the world. They have ways to guide minds to operate together, debate constructively and to be open to trying and failing and trying again.  They have access to worldwide sources of information on today’s cutting-edge discovers and research and for their students to share their own findings near and far. I doubt I’m too far off when I say that teachers today seek to form people who will lead the world- a world they hope will include their students warmly and allow them to contribute meaningfully.

They do, at least, when not so beaten by What Is that they lose sight of the promise of What Could Be.

What Could Be is fluid, as I said before. I picture it as the ocean and What Is as a rocky island. What Could Be is all the stuff that we wonder and dream about. It’s bits of what we know and splashes of novel things sloshing around with potential, but no real form yet.  It’s neither good nor bad, and What Could Be washes constantly on the shore of What Is, eroding and depositing, molding it over time.

Natural Progression Unless...

That is, if What Is allows it to. What Is can build barriers against What Could Be. These barriers can be laws that select for the status quo. They can be the withholding of information to or access to resources for certain people. They can be the silencing or defamation of contrary voices. These barriers can even be as simple as plain unknowing ignorance, disinterest and/or stubbornness by enough people to slam the brakes on the hopes and dreams of others seeking What Could Be.

To be open to the potential of What Could Be, we have to have hope that things can get better than What Is. We have to be willing to take risks with What Is and practice with new ideas and ways. We need to be willing to help each other and to risk failure. We have to be willing to stand back up and try again when we do fail, because we always will face calamities.

That last paragraph? That’s what you learn in school. That’s what we should practice regularly in our jobs and personal lives, too. All of us.

The ebb and flow of a seashore is a reminder to us all of the amazing and exciting dance we face if we’re willing: What Is and What Could Be. As Block B asks in their 2017 hit, Shall We Dance:

“I don’t want to be locked up
Gather the crowds, let’s break the taboo
We need to spread out
Or else we might become scarecrows
We can make empty lots into royal spaces
This is the peak, don’t exit out now
To the left, to the right, rock all night

Gather in a circle
Hesitant people won’t get in
Turn on the music and don’t give a care
Ya’ll just vibe with me, baby
I like that person over there
Pop it up, burn it up, more and more
Hey you guys, wanna play?
Don’t just watch, join us

Shall we dance…?”

Yes, we should.

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