The Suitcase Lady


September 11, 2011, 10:28 pm

Consider this powerful three line poem by Wisconsin poet, Bruce Taylor:

Pay attention.
This is everything.
Pay attention.

Years ago, when my amazing friend and storyteller, Judy, told me her theory on how the Muppets ruined children’s education, I was initially aghast. I loved Jim Hensen and every one of those witty, grouchy and loudmouthed Muppets and still do.

Upon reflection, I sadly must agree that much truth lies in my friend’s opinion. Sesame Street turned learning into sound bites and constant entertainment. No need to “pay attention” or sustain interest in anything. Factoids are hammered in at breakneck speed, and the onus is on the entertainer, not the student.

But true learning still requires time and hard work.  Making meaningful connections is the goal, not spewing back noise.

When I go back to school this fall, I don’t plan on being a Muppet. I do plan on saying in my best teacher voice, “Look hard at that word; you can’t learn to read if you are looking at the ceiling”. Or, “Look hard at the globe and you will see that the continent of Africa is shaped like an African elephant’s ear.” Or, “Who can tell us one thing they notice, like or dislike about this famous painting?”

What do good artists, writers and scientists all have in common? They observe the world around them.

Sorry, students, I’m not a faux Muppet. And if you tell me you are bored, I’ll fire right back that only boring people are bored.

Pay attention!

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