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Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Explicit, Visible Values

What do you personally value and how do you make that explicit and visible?

After I considered the values of the community where I teach and learn, I was then prompted to think of those values that matter most to me, and then to consider how I make those values explicit and visible.

As we traverse life, we continually develop and change. The communities we live and work with influence who we are and what we do. As many have said, life is a dance, and it is our intersection with all of life's events and constructs, that continually shape us.

At times, we hold on tightly to the values and constructs of the past. We don't want to let go of who we were or what mattered, but I think it's best if we don't see ourselves as permanent, but instead as changing and evolving. That's a good way to see others too. Rather than define another as he/she has always been, we can see those in our midst as a combination of old and new each time. "What's new?," we may often ask, and as we consider our evolving selves, that's a very good question.

We see this metamorphosis keenly in the children we raise. We watch them move into new stages and somewhat new selves all the time. It's more difficult to discern our own growth and change, and to make who we are inside and out visible and explicit in ways that matter.

As I consider my own life and ways, these are the values that stand tall at this time.

I am married to the notion of apt choreography in all that I do. I like the right harmony of quest and comfort, multiple experiences and influences, solitude and community. For my students in school, I listen and learn a lot about them and work with them to intersect that knowledge with the creation of multiple learning experiences in school and outside of school to inspire, engage, empower, challenge, and teach the children well. I do the same in my home life. I work with family members to create a home, lifestyle, and experiences that matter to all of us. This choreography, in a sense, is my art and my passion. Perhaps there are other ways to name it, and if you know those names let me know.

I am convinced that this is the greatest power, and the most challenging quest. To love well is challenging, but to be surrounded by children most of the time is to know love well as children are naturally loving--they continually quest to find and live the most loving lives. The more I learn to love well, the happier I am and the happier those around me are.

As you know, I love to think. I love to dissect, intersect, and deeply analyze ideas. I love when I learn of a new idea. For example, yesterday at Boston's Institute of Contemporary Art, I learned of the idea of democratic intuition for the first time as I viewed Meleko Mokgosi's installation. Monkgosi's art was inspired by philosopher and activist Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak's efforts to champion equal access to education for children in the developing world which she called "democratic intuition." The exhibit's pamphlet further explains Spivak's ideas with this quote, "Spivak argued that democracy depends on individual's using "abstract judgement" to promote the welfare of their fellow members to society, holding that "you can in fact describe the democratic as other people's children, not just yours." This has opened a new world of think for me, one that will simmer and deepen in the days ahead leading me to consider Spivak's ideas and Mokgosi's art more.

We have to get out there and experience the world in any way that we can. These experiences feed our spirit, develop our intellect/impact, and broaden our view.

It's not doing lots of work that matters, but doing the work you do with depth and care that makes a difference. (quality over quantity)

Few things mean more time to experience that which you love and that which intrigues you most.

Nature holds life's truths, empowers the spirit, and energizes all that you can do.

I used to search a lot for truth, but now I know most truth is relative, so instead I listen for right truth--the truth that moves good work, thought, and intersection.

Find that which makes you smile and feel deep happiness and joy.

There is so much potential to build and develop natural and human made beauty--the kind of beauty that inspires the best of who we are, not beauty in the commercial sense.

Care and Kindness
For some time I thought that these values were in contrast to truth and righteousness, but now I realize you can be caring and kind and still value and promote that which you believe to be right and true. One does not have to exist without the other.

As I write my value list, I recognize that it does not fit exactly into the ways we define a real-time community since when I defined my school community I talked more about ways of acting, and when I defined my values I discussed words that define a deeper sense of self. I'll think more about the distance and differences between the terms as I'm sure they intersect better than I can understand at this time.

What values lead your work and life? How do your values intersect with the values of the communities you contribute to and work with? If you're willing to share, let me know.