Thoughts on Growing…

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My six-year old son has made it perfectly clear to me that he thinks being small is a drag. When we discussed this catastrophic situation I discovered that John David’s biggest concern is really what his friends might think about him. According to my little fellow, car seats, plastic mattress pads, and water wings are a dead giveaway to the smallness of a person. I can identify with his heartache. No one likes for his friends to laugh at his smallness.

John David’s struggles have prompted me to think about why being big is desired by so many. Isn’t this the great American goal? Big portfolios, bigger salaries, the biggest toys, the most myspace friends, the most prestigious awards, the most hits, the greatest influence. Being small has never really captured the imagination of most Americans. Bigger is better. And the biggest must be the best.

So, is this bad? Is it simply a collective American fault, a bad seed planted in the proverbial evil garden causing us to chase the wind? Maybe. And maybe not. Maybe being big is the point of it all and the undiscovered purpose for unfulfilled dreamers. Growing is as natural as desiring, indulging, and seeking to make ourselves laugh. Somehow John David knew being big would bring greater rewards. Who wouldn’t want the reward now. I agree with him. Why wait?

Now, what about other kinds of growth? Few adults seek growth with the passion of a child. And most of us clearly understand the rewards of personal growth. Teachers acknowledge the necessity of professional development, but lack passion for it. We are quick to point out the obstacles to our growth. When others encourage our development by designing opportunities for us we complain. They ask too much. They don’t challenge me enough. They, they, they. We rarely take responsibility for our own growth and create our own opportunities and situations. We just sit back and expect others to “grow” us, like we are a plant being watered with air.

And then there are others who love to grow. I love these folks. I call them Jolly Green Giants. They are always trying on pants every place they go. And most of the time the pants they find are Jiminy Cricket’s. But they keep searching for big pants to wear. Big pants. That’s what I want to wear and I want them to fit. So while John David works his way out of a car seat and water wings, I’ll work my way out of Jiminy Cricket’s breeches and into some suited for a giant.

4 thoughts on “Thoughts on Growing…

  1. Caldwell says:

    From where I stand you are wearing the big pants right now, girlfriend! You are such a great story teller. My blog posts lack the heart that yours have, so I am going to take a note on your creativity. I hear you on this one sister. I love that you call it being “watered with air.” That is the truth. How can we call ourselves teachers when we don’t desire the one thing we claim to desire all of our students to become- lifelong learners. Did someone change the definition of lifelong and not tell me about it? Lifelong does not stop with college or tenure or when you get busy and have your own kids. As a matter of fact, as we mature, our desire to wear those big pants should increase. I would like to think I make better choices and can use my experiences to make richer learning and better teaching decisions. Hmmm I would like to declare these big pants very similar to those in the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. They fit everyone, make you look and feel good, and seem to bring out the best results in all of us. I am joining the Sisterhood!!!

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  2. Jennifer Barnett says:

    Thanks, Brandi! Maybe we need to form “A Sisterhood of the Growing Pants!” We really do need to talk more about “lifelong” learner, like you say. You are on to something with this.

    I’ve thought alot about why these 21st Century teaching strategies haven’t excited educators around us. Maybe we need to be painting a good coat of kilz before starting our techno-masterpiece. If a teacher claims to be a true lifelong learner, how could he or she continue to operate on his or her patient using 20th century methods? Tough talk, but someone needs to start saying it. What do you think?

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