Sometimes I find myself writing posts in my head and then I have to stop whatever it is that I am doing and get my thoughts out. So I sit and write and this is why my house is always a mess. Most people do not stop unloading the dishwasher just because a thought pops into their head....do they?
Anyway....my thought for today centers around a cool teachable moment that happened Monday. It made me think again of what school meant to me. I spent my middle school and high school years in Glastonbury, Connecticut, a suburb of Hartford, which was and still is a highly competitive academic town. I bought into the philosophy of competitive academics wholeheartedly. I wanted my name on the honor roll. I wanted the academic awards at the yearly awards night. I wanted As on my report card. I wanted a high class rank. I wanted all these things but I was never made by any of my teachers to examine why I wanted them. To most of us, it was just a grade, a score, a rank, a bragging right. It did not change who we were. Isn’t the purpose of education to change who we are, to make us think and stretch and grow and question and dig and evaluate and mature in both age and in wisdom? None of these thoughts ever entered into my mind. Not in middle school. Not in high school. Not even in college. Perhaps a bit in grad school but even then, I learned the mainstream educational philosophies never even wondering if there were alternatives or refuting arguments against public institutionalized education.
One of my girls has been out of school longer than she was ever in school. The other will reach that milestone the end of this year. It changes everything. Not being in school. There is no reason to learn other than to grown, mature, develop, analyze, critique and connect. They are not striving for a class rank, a report card, a honor roll report, or an award. They are learning what they want because they want to learn. Every now and then this concept completely overwhelms me.
I have yet to write about our family choice to add a puppy to our home, but we are at the end of September. Right now Grace has immersed herself in all things dogs. She is volunteering at the kennel once or twice a week and she is doing an independent study on the care and keeping of canines for her fall semester. She is reading books (like Marley: A dog like no other and how to books, like My Pet Dog), she is watching documentaries like Shelter Me, and she is watching movies about dogs like Hachi: A dog’s tale.
Hachi is not for the faint of heart. Despite a G rating, it is one of the most emotional movies I have ever seen, perhaps because I can draw so many connections to it. Like the family in the movie we have had a faithful pet who looked forward to the arrival of Greg each evening from his daily commute via train to the city. Like the wife, I have a husband who commutes daily and like her I send him off every day thinking that he is going to return home on his 6:29 train to his family. One day that does not happen and the course of the family and the dog’s lives are forever altered. Tears. Oh my, how many tears were shed watching this movie.
Hatchi is an modern era adaptation of the true life story of Hachi, a dog who lost his master in Japan in the 1930s and who waited every day for over 10 years for his master to get off the train at the Shibuya Station. It is streaming instantly on Netflix.
As the movie ended and the information about the real Hachi was presented I immediately had a memory of seeing the statue in Shibuya Station on a past season of The Amazing Race. A few minutes on Google and we found it! Season 9, episode 12. We went back and watched that part of the episode again.
These are the moment that I have to record. There are always gaps in education. No child or person can know all there is to know. But when you begin to think of education and knowledge as a blanket, woven, interlocking, overlapping, it looks so different that a series of grades on a piece of paper. There is trust involved that there is something to be learned in each experience, whether it is watching an episode of The Amazing Race or a movie about a dog. And the true learning occurs when you find the connections, the overlapping between the two.