Slammed! (Gifts of Sudbury?)

You may have noticed I haven’t http://www.flickr.com/photos/tmray02/4415770896/been blogging quite as frequently of late—or perhaps you haven’t, because you’ve been just as busy. It’s almost cliché, this holiday busy-ness, but this year I find it especially true: last week I had three rehearsals and two performances with Chorus Austin. This week is relatively light, with “only” two rehearsals and one gig, but next week it’s back into the fray with four rehearsals and one more concert.

Elsewhere I’ve described how my schedule is typically stuffed with choir, working at Clearview Sudbury School, promoting CASE, and meditating at the Austin Zen Center—plus taking care of myself by working out, reading, and journaling. Despite the fact that these are all passions of mine—and despite all the Zen—staying grounded and present remains a constant challenge.

Indeed, I am regularly beset by anxious questions. Where’s the money going to come from to sustain this passion-pursuing? How am I going to reduce time spent on things I enjoy in order to generate some income? And isn’t the whole point of this blog, and my current life quest, to prove that idealism is compatible with material self-sufficiency?

Even were I to focus solely on education, concentrating on CASE and Clearview and Sudbury schooling in general, so many relevant articles and other links come my way that I scarcely have time to do more than skim the vast majority. In fact, I recently had to set up a burgeoning Google doc for all these links—a wealth of promising material languishing in limbo—because I was keeping way too many tabs open in my browser.

How unlike childhood, when school years and summers stretched interminably, and boredom was a real and present danger! Welcome, middle age, when the overabundance of interesting things to explore are countered by an equal number of commitments, and when a sense of just how limited time really is begins to weigh increasingly on one’s consciousness.

I half-joke to friends that I can take any given topic and find a Sudbury connection in thirty seconds or less; something of the Kevin Bacon game, but without so many degrees of separation. Well, here is the Sudbury segue of the moment: given control over how they spend their time, our students are immersed throughout their schooling in an intensive course on time management.

Actually, Sudbury students have little choice but to figure out what’s important to them, what’s worth their time, because Sudbury staff refuse to take that growth opportunity away from them. We also don’t rescue them from boredom (a blog-worthy topic in its own right), but instead recognize its value in driving people through their superficial or supposed interests to what really matters. Whether something’s interesting enough to spend time on, and at what point something becomes a waste of time, are among the many key lessons opened up by a curriculum of self-directed learning.

If we want our children to grow into their adult lives as self-directed, motivated individuals able to set priorities and boundaries despite being rapidly bombarded by information and possibilities, I believe this sort of education is imperative. Otherwise today’s youth could wind up spending a great deal of their adulthood unlearning a lot of old habits and assumptions. Who knows, they might even find themselves, years down the road, writing blog posts about how busy they are, how they’re still trying to sort all this stuff out…

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3 Comments

Filed under My Quest, Sudbury

3 responses to “Slammed! (Gifts of Sudbury?)

  1. I had a teacher who said that we shouldn’t motivate our students because then when they get out in the world they wouldn’t know what to do. Was he joking? I’m less inclined to think so than I was 50 years ago when he said it.

    • Kim, I think your teacher was spot-on. This is something I’d like to address in a full-length post (and thanks for the idea!), but for now, I’ll say that external motivation — the type your teacher was referencing — absolutely can rob people of their capacity for self-direction, for figuring out what to do with their lives. It can be terribly addictive and debilitating.

      • Small Girl Big World

        Having been in a Sudbury school for 4 years before, and having graduated from one, I can simply say: Agreed.

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