Earlier this year I read a ton of reviews of Miranda Lambert’s album Platinum. I hadn’t been terribly impressed with Lambert, although I sincerely loved some of her songs especially “The House That Built Me.” When the year end arrived, her album was getting Top Ten kudos from several publications, some that even put her at Number One. It wasn’t until amazon Prime put her on this list of “freebies” that I finally said, okay, I’ll give it a listen.
What did I find? I loved every song the first listen. It isn’t just the humor or the directness or the feminism or the crazy truth about the bathroom sink and “rejection in the reflection” — it is more.
It is aliveness.
Think about it. What really draws us into anything? It is aliveness. It is the raw energy, the creative focus, it is the fun factor all combined into one.
I saw a band last summer in Nashville that opened for Marty Stuart. They had fancy outfits and the most beautiful instruments money could buy. Their performance sucked. No aliveness.
As teachers we are told we must engage students. Engage in Aliveness is probably the best way to frame it. Something to think about now leading up to the next half of the school year.
Which brings me to another Miranda Lambert point. She has a song called “Automatic” which to me encapsulates why I am totally against iPads or laptops for every student. It makes everything too automatic, taking away the gratification of effort.
Yesterday when I discovered the five questions, I immediately knew that I needed to write more and play my mandolin more. It was an instant answer, and led me to seeing that I have to bring aliveness to those activities rather than what I’ve been doing: playing the “should” game. I should practice. I should write. Boring. No aliveness.
Recently, I have read people admonishing teachers for not offering a clear alternative to corporate reforms of education. I felt guilty about that for a while, and tried to think of exactly what the alternative would be. These writers are looking for fixed answers.
I now know that the real answer has to be aliveness. For middle-schoolers, I believe that would come with project-based learning. I think about my students, particularly the very low level intensive academic kids. Would they come alive and be able to produce in the atmosphere of project-based learning? You bet. Could they plan and organize themselves to complete the task? Without a doubt. They have interests. Those interests just aren’t served in the traditional environment, nor are they served in the ever increasing corporate reform environment. They have learned how to go on “automatic.” Trying to get them out of that mode is impossible — without something to make the feel alive. Like the day we read poetry out loud and that super low student belted out “Let It Go,” smiling wide as everyone sang along.
Yeah, like that.
Aliveness. Let’s make it the new buzz word for 2015.