I just read the eulogy written and delivered by Mona Simpson at her brother, Steve Jobs’ funeral
. The ironic thing is that I came across the eulogy looking back at the days Tweets via TweetDeck. Okay, so that is not so ironic, the real ironic part is that before I read the eulogy I read a Gallop Poll conducted over the 4 business quarters of 2010. According to the poll, above 50% of American workers are disengaged with their job. That means 1 out of every 2 people you see on the street are not passionate about what they create, change, influence on a daily basis. Around Halloween people talk about zombies, but in actuality most people are just making it through the day emotionless with no clear path. It was disheartening to read such a statistic, so I imagine the emotional impact of reading such an amazing eulogy right afterwards was heightened. Steve’s sister is a writer and a professor. Her words are eloquent and her love for her brother shows in every metaphor and anecdote.
So often in the last few months the idea of inspiration and love and leading life using emotions has resonated to me: everywhere from national conferences to local workshops and now in the tender words of a sister whom lost a brother. The arts and the humanities have, for far to long, been under-valued to science and math. Taylor Mali speaks about seeing God and beauty in Math, “How can you teach math without speaking of God…”. I received a wonderful email from a parent today (coincidence at this juncture in my life?) that thanked me “for all I do to engage [my] child in your class”. I emailed back that I really want to go beyond engagement and inspire people.
The talk about common assessment and standardization and cutting physical education and art classes makes me sick. People are so worried to let education change for the better, but those same people are very quick to cut the things that are currently making education so great. The National Middle School Association released their “This We Believe” statement. It is a collection of attributes and characteristics considered “Keys” to education today’s youth. 2 of the 16 characteristics concern curriculum and assessment.
That’s 12.5% of a child’s total education.14 characteristics and 4 essential attributes speak of educating the rest of the child...the part to the left and under the focus of math and science. The brain has two hemispheres and they are connected for a reason. We have arms and legs and feet and feelings and stomachs and hearts and they are valuable learning and living tools.
As I see my philosophical beliefs flourishing, a personal renaissance that I am lucky enough to share with Garth, and I wonder where I can find empathy. It rarely exists in teachers and is even more rare in administrators. I wonder why my life has brought me to this point? I read the autobiographies of people that are creative and brave; Neil Peart, Russell Means, Jack Kerouac, Steve Jobs. I wonder if they ever truly find fulfillment in what they do, or if it is a constant battle to impact the world.
It isn’t about success and failure. It isn’t about being remembered. It isn’t about awards. It isn’t about being the best. It isn’t about being the favorite. It’s about changing the world. Nothing more and never, never anything less.