Sunday, September 12, 2010

Three moments

An activity we (Ali and I) did as a part of our orientation at BorderLinks was to depict the "rivers of our lives." We were only given a few minutes to complete this task, so undoubtedly, not all of the flowing parts made it onto the drawing.

These following three moments were the first three that I thought of in terms of shaping my young life, and more-over the person I am today. Perhaps I was thinking about them because just before completing the task, I'd read the mission of BorderLinks, and it very much so reminded me of the Montessori Method. But more on that later.

So, here's to you, Mrs. Suzelle Poole, Mrs. Mary Loew, and Ms T, the Guides of my childhood.

The Golden Rule
I'm sure I remember this moment more as a dream than how it actually happened. One day in my primary class, (that's 3-6years old, for you non Montessori children), Mrs. Poole gathered us together for a Grace and Courtesy lesson. That day's lesson was the Golden Rule.

I went to Sunday School growing up, and I'm sure I'd heard it in other ways with my childhood teachers. But this particular moment sticks in my mind. I really struggled with the idea of "do unto others as you would have them do to you." I remember asking something like "but what if someone really just wants to be mean? Are you mean in return?"

I feel like I was a pretty good, nice, caring child. But, instead of reinforcing those attributes, I feel like that moment, learning the Golden Rule, served to teach me retribution. It showed me that actions are done to elicit responses and certain behaviors in other people. Instead of being nice, friendly, compassionate and loving because we want to, we do it because we want others to do the same to us.

So moment 1: The Golden Rule- I learned that others don't necessarily think with their hearts first. That others may be led by other, more selfish desires.

All throughout lower elementary, I feel like I had a timeline project to complete. I don't ever recall finishing a single one of them, but I do remember starting many. One in particular is a timeline of animals, starting with the Trilobites, and tracing evolution to Human Beings. I remember asking Mrs. Loew, "In Sunday School we learned that Adam and Eve started the world. This timeline shows that we evolved. Which is right?" Her response was, as any good Guide's response would be, very calm and collected; she said something along the lines of "well, some of those stories are believed to be metaphors, and this timeline depicts the scientific idea of evolution." To which I replied something along the lines of "Which is the right one?"
"Well, it depends on the individual"
"Isn't there a right answer, though?"

Lesson: There can be many different interpretations of "the facts."

Interview with a Superstar

This moment is, by far, my favorite.
I was probably 11 or 12 at the time, and of course, knew everything. The class had been assigned to interview someone famous. So I decided to interview Ms T, my Upper Elementary Guide (4-6th grade). I developed a list of somewhere between 20 and 100 questions. Before the interview I patted myself of the back, congratulating myself for thinking of absolutely every worthwhile interview, for being such a thorough 11 year old journalist. And, just in case I had forgotten a worthwhile question, I'd even thought of that possibility. My last question was "Is there any other question you think I should have asked that I didn't?" I thoroughly expected the answer to be "no,", of course, since I'd certainly covered all of my bases.

But, that was not the case.

Ms T responded "yes" to my last question. And I was unprepared. So I followed up with "what question did I leave out?"
"You didn't ask me what I want to be when I grow up?"

I was confused. She was a teacher. That was her title. She was grown up.

So, I asked the question anyways. I don't remember the response. But I do remember that moment being when I realized that we will always be growing, and never have to give up on learning, changing, and experiencing new things.

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