Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Our Children have Wings

You were born with potentialYou were born with goodness and trustYou were born with ideals and dreams
You were born with greatness
You were born with wings
You were not meant for crawling so don't You have wings Learn to use them and fly


At the beginning of many of our storytelling sessions with children we begin with this poem by the mystic poet Jellaludun Rumi. When my partner Bee stands up and begins to recite the above poem sometimes there is giggling when she says the first line. That is until she begins to point to individual children.

When she points directly to a child and says, "You were born with goodness and trust" it is as if they have been suddenly woken up. In the room there is silence and the children begin to pay rapt attention. This is a short story with deep power and vision. It is an invitation and an invocation for our children to remember who they are and why they are.

We have a culture that educates our children by filling them full of information that we say is necessary for them to live full and productive lives. The emphasis, however, tends to be on the productive rather than the full. The emphasis tends to be on the more the better rather than the fullness of living. Rumi invites the children into the fullness of what is potential within them without judgement.

This is the role of a storyteller. It is remind children and others that at the heart of who they are is the ability to fly. What is needed is imagination and the building of confidence in the potential that they as children have arrived with in this world. To invite this confidence to take wing is the true role of a teacher. A teacher is not the same as an educator. A teacher unfolds. An educator often binds the wings so that the child can be safe and not go flying.

Another storyteller who invites such remembrance is the wonderful singer songwriter David Grey when he writes and sings in his song entitled Silver Lining

You were born with eyes wide open
so alive outspoken,
Tell me why, down in the darkest deep
Know there`s a light don`t sleep.

In this world where we hear stories of violence, disaster, dispair and fear it is important to remind our children what is at the core of human existance. This is not some fairy tale notion that we find in tales of old. This is the story and language of the heart that is known within all cultures and all traditions which education is supposed to "bring out" rather than to blot out with more and more information that keeps us in form and earth bound unable to take wing.

1 comment:

  1. You know I see this with my own children. I have a son that is a perfectionist in so many ways. He's a straight A the point of taking summer school to change and A- to an A. He wants to get into Notre Dame, and the requirements just to be looked at, by this school is unbelievable. But Connor is a good person, with a remarkable soul....and his saving grace is his music. I see him return to his music more often than not...and that is where he is most happy, surrounded by fellow musicians, playing, writing, jamming, whatever...that's where is heart soars.

    My daughter studies classical voice, and has lived on the stage since she was three. She has always known that her life was meant to be on stage performing. She always says that when she is on that stage she knows she's home. And there is her writing...she finds her home also in a book or with a pen....she knows and embraces the creative in herself.