I have high hopes that it will be a wonderful year, especially for those who deeply care about the education of all children, if for no other reason than we struggle and determine to make it so.
As I think about the conflicts, miscommunication, and antagonism that smother sustainable and equitable education reform throughout our country, I’m reminded of a story, and that story gives reason for great hope.
Once a little boy was playing outdoors and found a fascinating caterpillar. He carefully picked it up and took it home to show his mother. He asked his mother if he could keep it, and she said he could if he would take good care of it. The little boy got a large jar and put in plants to eat, and a stick to climb on. Every day he watched the caterpillar and brought it new plants to eat.
One day the caterpillar climbed up the stick and acted strangely. The boy’s mother understood that the caterpillar was creating a cocoon and explained to the boy that it was going through a metamorphosis to become a butterfly. The little boy was thrilled to hear about the changes his caterpillar would go through. He watched every day, waiting for the butterfly to emerge. One day a small hole appeared in the cocoon and the butterfly began to struggle to come out.
At first the boy was excited, but soon he became concerned. The butterfly was struggling so hard to get out! It looked like it couldn’t break free and was making no progress! It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could and it could go no farther. So the boy decided to help the butterfly, he took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily. But it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. The boy continued to watch the butterfly because he expected that, any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time.
But neither happened!
The butterfly spent life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings.
It never was able to fly!
What the boy in his kindness and haste did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny opening were nature's way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon. Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our life. If we went through our life without any obstacles, it would cripple us. We would not be as strong as what we could have been. And we could never fly. --Author unknown--
My hope is that as stakeholders- educators, parents, students, school boards and community leaders:
- We avoid the misguided shears- applied to budgets, personnel, rigorous curriculum, and divergent but constructive dialogue- which yield stunted, crippled, and low-achieving school systems
- We push through the restraints of political mandates or compliance programs, limited resources, and unfounded educational practices that tend to shackle innovative and creative solutions
- We strengthen our resolve to emerge from the ritualistic educational interment, rampant in this country; and give all children the rich, relevant and rigorous educational experience our land of freedom and liberty can provide
In doing so, each generation of learners will fly higher, stronger and more beautifully skilled and prepared to deal with the challenges that face our ever-growing global community.
Struggle is good… bring it on.
Happy New Year!