Thursday, January 31, 2008

What No Child Left Behind Leaves Behind

"As children, we spend much of our time in a kind of perpetual openness and wonder, attuned to the magic and mystery that plays beneath the surface of life. Many people have intimations of their true nature in childhood—the sense of benevolent presence guiding their life, a radiance that shines forth from all things, or a current of love that unites us all. In his "Ode: Intimations of Immortality," William Wordsworth puts it well:

There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
The earth, and every common sight,
To me did seem
Apparell'd in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream."

—Stephen Bodian, Wake Up Now, Mc Graw Hill, 2008


James Gurney said...

Yes, that and "the child is the father to the man"--which is why your approach to teaching kindergarten changes entire lives.

I believe Wordsworth's reverence for the celestial wisdom of the child is something almost forgotten in the modern obsession with test scores, where the "shades of the prison house" start closing in pretty early.

I think you were the one who first told me about Neil Postman's excellent book on the disappearance of childhood. Hard to believe it was written more than 25 years ago.

Dan Gurney, Mr. Kindergarten said...

My experience is that children still enter into magical/mystical realms. Sadly, the wonders and magic and mystery of the natural world have been lost to many children growing up in America today. Video games have supplanted vernal pools; today's youngster could easily click his way into virtual dystopian hell realms.

At recess the other day a second grader was telling me about a new video game he got, "It's really cool. You get to blow up buildings and bridges and stuff," he told me.

"That's cool, you think?" I countered. "What about all the people in those building?" (An image of 9/11 crossed my mind, secretaries covered in dust, holding handkerchiefs over their mouths.)

"Oh, they're all bad guys," he told me.

bingo 2 said...

If "the chid is the father to the man", who, or what, is the mother to the man?

Dan Gurney, Mr. Kindergarten said...

Bingo 2,

Jim could've written with equal validity, "the child is the mother to the woman." I think he was quoting a writer from yesteryear when terms like "mankind" inelegantly stood for "humankind" and "man" was supposed to mean "people."

In any event, the celestial wisdom of childhood is without doubt gender neutral.

Thank you for bringing it up.

Who or what is the mother of man? Big question. Spacious awareness? God? Love? It's worth exploring.

bingo2 said...

I think in the sense of Wordsworth's poem "The Rainow" he would mean it to be Mother Nature herself!