Day 2: Meeting Buzz Aldrin and Making up Words

Dear Readers,

There’s a lot of talk about testing, high stakes testing, assessments, how to measure progress, data. Data driven instruction is coming to my town. All that measuring, counting, time wasting on tests. I feel like a storm is coming here. My stomach hurts.

All I know is I love my son. And I hardly have time. So spending time on things that make  no sense to me feels like a real intrusion. As in an added something I really don’t need in my life right now. As in, plate already full. Already overflowing. Do we really have to deal with this now, too? We do.

I want to see my son healthy and happy. Watch him grow and learn at his own pace. Every size the right size, wherever he is . To see him excited about things–anything. To see him master control over his body and mind and become more of who he is.

He wrote this and gave it to me before bedtime:

Happy Funny Day

A world where children laugh

and gumdrop rainbows

pepper the sky.

And then my son cries to me, “I want nap time at school. Why isn’t there  nap time? I need a break.” When did nap time go away in kindergarten? I had naps. Then graham crackers and juice. I was going to draw something about this but then found this piece by someone else. I think this is perfect!

earlychild

Today Buzz Aldrin was in our town, his hometown, where he  graduated from  high school. We waited on a very long line at the local public library to meet and greet him and have him sign a copy of his new book, Mission to Mars. The wait was miserable, with M  whining and squirming, and on and on, “Please let’s go home.”

After a while, I became that parent. I was the one pleading with him in return, please, it’s almost over, please behave, please, chill, here play with my phone…we’ll get you ice cream afterwards….THAT PARENT. He was only saying what we were thinking. But there I was, trying to get  my son to cooperate with a ridiculous situation of too much waiting.  We’d explained that we, his mom and dad, really really wanted to meet this man, the second to walk on the moon. We’d each watched it on TV as children, and we loved space, that footage never getting old, always giving goosebumps. We felt this was a once in a lifetime opportunity. And somehow, M got it that he needed to cooperate just enough so we could get this done. So when it was time for books to be signed and pictures taken, he cooperated.

It was our turn at the table and Mr. Aldrin   signed the book, and I said, “I watched you walk on the moon when I was almost three.” He smiled at me.  M piped up, “I watched you walk on the moon this morning on the DVD!” Mr. Aldrin gave M an even bigger  smile and eye contact.

We met a man who walked on the moon today.

Going to the moon required science, skill, knowledge, rocket fuel, plus a few million things I’ll never  understand. But,  I know it also required imagination,  dreams, and courage. Those are things  my son has. Imagination. Dreams. Courage. I don’t want his school experience to squash what he already has.

I want to go beg the people who are trying to  radically change public school education  as we know it, into something I can hardly fathom. I want to beg. Please, please can we stop this? How do we stop this?

When I tucked him into bed, he said, “Let’s do some huggling now. That’s hugging and cuddling at the same time.” New word.  I think we all need more huggling in our days and nights. More love. I think that will be the thing that unlocks what we need to do. Because I’m pretty certain more testing and data isn’t the answer. How do you measure Imagination? Dreams?  Courage?

Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” In his song, “Seasons of Love” Jonathan Larson of RENT answered the question,   how do you measure a life? —-Love.

Love and imagination are some of the things that  helped  get  Buzz Aldrin to the moon and back. Love and imagination belong in our schools.

Peace,

Elana

3 thoughts on “Day 2: Meeting Buzz Aldrin and Making up Words

  1. This is so smart. Moving. True.

    Education is about inspiration, encouragement, and connecting the dots. Max got to connect the dots in an extraordinary way — meeting the moon man he just watched on his DVD. Wow.

    Yes, our schools need to nurture and serve the gifts all children are born with. Thank you for saying it so beautifully.

  2. My grandson met the man who walked on the moon! As an adolescent, I used to devour science fiction. Now NASA sends me photographs of distant worlds that look like the cover illustrations of those science fiction magazines. Kids walk around with supercomputers (aka smart phones) for playing games or communicating with anyone on the planet. It all starts with imagination and the love of learning. And with loving parents.

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