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learning without reflection

School’s out for most. Another year has ended. Everyone awaits these longer days of summer and enjoys a more relaxed schedule. How did these marvelous students, most children, get to this day?

Heather Siple- graduation-018.JPGWorking in schools – teaching a variety of students – confirms that children take individual paths to graduation day. Some move through school at the established pace, completing the required steps, causing knowing smiles as they accomplish predetermined goals. Others meander, checking out things along the way, perhaps devoting more time to some things than others and getting to the finish line in their own time. Still others may have difficulty determining where the finish line is and an even harder time figuring out what to do to come close to reaching it. Educators find these variations and more. Parents typically prefer the first option as it is tried and true. We know it works and what is expected is carried out. However, which is the best path? That depends.

If you’ve gone to school, held a job, had a relationship with another human (or maybe even a dog or cat), you know there are many many ways to reach a goal. Motivation waxes and wanes. Energy for some things is greater than it may be for others. Friends, colleagues, teachers and others encourage, prod and maybe even push as needed. What we do know is that we do not get most places alone. We depend on others whether we realize it or not. We cannot accomplish our goals alone.

Each year, our graduates share their “Where I’m From” poems with the audience at our graduation ceremony. These children are 12 years old. They have lived 12 years and yet they shared wisdom well beyond those 12 years. The exercise of writing a poem based on the poem of that name by George Ella Lyon gives these students the gift of reflection, of thinking about their lives to date, allowing them to stop and recall times that they loved, that made them laugh, and that give them hope. Though they have not lived what any of us would call long lives to date, they have lived most of their childhood and have been presented with the opportunity to relish it and share it with others.

Where we’re from matters and helps to guide where we are going. Reflection allows us to see ourselves and our lives to date and illuminate the path forward. Where are you from? How will thinking about your past and learning from it help you determine your future?