Saturday, February 2, 2013

Learning as Pilgrimage

Confession - I was supposed to be doing housework and I decided to kill some time on Twitter instead. A fabulous colleague @bhobbs63 posted a link to @StrategicMonk's blogpost "Our Pilgrimage is Not a Race".

"Our pilgrimage is not about gaining speed over a distance toward a goal. The point of our pilgrimage is to be aware on the journey....Pilgrimage is about learning, being open to the lessons of each step."

After reading the post, I took some time to reflect while I cleaned...

I had the privilege to go on a pilgrimage once with the Franciscans (we're a dual order household) to Assisi, Italy.  Our guides told us right away to not consider this experience a vacation.  A pilgrimage is not a vacation.  It is a journey with oneself and God - moving closer to unity - experiencing place in the present.
Not Assisi (those pics are on another computer), but pretty...

What if we thought about education in this light?

About now my public school readers are panicking, but never fear... this applies to you as well.  Image education as a journey with oneself and knowledge.  No destination test scores, no end goal spreadsheets full of SLO's, no race to fill the walls of a data room.  What if we knew each student - their gifts and weaknesses - journeying together to experience "school" in the present moment... unified by shared interest in content and open to the ...whatever... that might happen?

Does this mean I am advocating throwing goal setting and curriculum guides out the window?  Not at all.  I am all about setting goals and having a plan (strong J on Meiers-Briggs).  However, sitting in #FETC sessions this week, listening about PARCC and Smarter Balance testing I could not help but think we've gone too far.  We let ourselves focus on outcomes to the detriment of the individual.  The journey has become about an imaginary, norm-referenced finish line.

Yes, I am dreaming.  And yes, I may have inhaled too much bathroom cleaner. But here's the thing - down at #FETC this week, every conversation I had landed on the importance of personal relationships: between teacher and student; administrator and teacher; school and home... Being present in the moment with each other, unified in the journey of learning, was the topic on many minds - not destination items such as test scores and SLO's.  And we build these relationships when we let go of school as business and open ourselves to school as pilgrimage.  A journey of many little steps, unified by content and shared experiences in the present moment.

Learning happens everywhere!