Y is for You

| March 22, 2014

I ran across this quote awhile ago, and I was reminded of it while searching for inspiration for writing. It felt appropriate given our conversations surrounding experiences and environments.

I find the implications of this quote very interesting, and likely ones that go unnoticed after a quick read.

You are an accumulation of all things you interact with. People, books, movies, music, spaces, conversations. You are impacted by all of these. Not only because you experienced them (in so far as you were physically and mentally present), but also by what you contributed to them. By actively partaking in life we come to know ourselves and others.

You are a product of give and take. You enter a room and you take away a space in that room that existed before you. However, you also add the energy of your presence.

When we engage in conversation we not only gain the perspective of others, but we learn things about ourselves. In those moments of heated discussion when you are passionately talking about something, you process your own beliefs and ideas by sharing them with others.

The reminds me of our conversations about experience and what constitutes a ‘real’ experience. Dewey has written on experience, as have many educational authors. Perhaps some would suggest that we separate “learning experiences” and “life experiences”. I would argue that is a dangerous divide, and one that denies the practice of authentic education. However, many of today’s classrooms continue to divide a student’s 8am-3pm school life from their experiences at home.

In order to be effective educators we must engage the whole student. This means opening our classrooms to their experiences in the world (some of which we ourselves will be unable to relate to). It means engaging in honest conversations with students and letting them know that they are complex creatures that hold a lot of knowledge, more than you could ever try to teach them. In doing so, we give students agency over their learning, and cease denying them the chance to truly partake in their education.