Last summer these three boys (pictured above) rode up on their longboards to a rocky spot along the Carlsbad shoreline. They each found a large stone upon which to sit and write in silence. Not on their phones or tablets, but in their journals. I was moved to capture the sight because this type of grounded reflection, hand to paper, wireless and present, quiet and real, is largely gone from the curriculum.
The goal today is to keep them engaged with what they know--technology.
However, without slowing our students down and creating a space for them to reflect intentionally on pages they can burn rather than in traceable code, we keep them from writing real and from the heart.
There is great power in telling our stories and having them heard. My grandfather taught me that. Engaging us on a journey through his past validated his struggles and gave meaning to the work he did with his hands. It honored his soul, which is important because a neglected soul tends to express itself painfully, appearing symptomatically in obsessions, addictions, and violence. Deny students their stories as our culture does, and they eventually turn to the language of violence.
As teachers in the humanities, we encourage students to explore the inner life. But at school they interface with computers and in a variety of learning labs where they are plugged in and turned on. At what point do they stumble on an inner life?
When do they discover the questions of the heart?
The first goal of education—if we think it has anything at all to do with values and empowerment—is to bring students to a knowledge of the world within. We do that by inviting them to go truly wireless, put pencil to paper and write in their journals. A journal is a room of one’s own, that private quiet place where the past and the present become sacred.
From there, students can transform their personal musings into peer-reviewed digital projects, papers and essays that are interesting, real, polished, and thoughtful.
Intentional, in life and online.