I love educational psychology conferences. I love the big fat program with 10 million presentations on some obscure facet of learning that I can file away under “Empirically Proven!” in my mind. Then, at cocktail parties or in my practice, I can merge all these facts and espouse something interesting about child development. (I do recognize that “Interesting” is a subjective term.)*
A few years ago, I helped put together an interesting conference, held in a secluded nature setting in Northern California. The conference theme was predetermined by my place of business as, “Exploring The Roots of Educational Service.” It was all about self-discovery and reflection about why you are an educator. As an empiricist from a research-oriented graduate school program, this was a challenge for me. What? No regression analyses with p<.05? But, I aim to please, so I helped put together the following sessions:
I could write a post on each one of these, but will spare you. I will write about the Labyrinth, because I know you secretly want to know what that’s about. Hey, it’s summer, what else are you educators going to do?
This Berkeley-esque woman I’ll call “Katie” brought a giant Labyrinth printed on a giant plastic sheet that covered the whole room. We were each asked to walk through the Labyrinth and reflect on our journey or something. Katie encouraged us to “find our own path” and “be authentic with ourselves.” Of all the luck, I got stuck behind Katie, who took FOREVER to find her path. At each turn, she did an extra turn/leap whilst moving her arms about like a weeping willow in a Category 5 storm. Hurricane Katie, with eyes closed, also hummed a little song to boot. I stood there, tapping my foot with Labyrinth-Rage, thinking, “MOVE IT! Just get to the end! GO!” When she finally reached the end, she curled into a little ball at the center and stayed there for like 20 minutes, reflecting. I took the fastest route out of the Labyrinth so I could move on to making sure I had enough pebbles to distribute for the reflection pool activity.
YEARS later, I still remember this Labyrinth when I am feeling frustrated with meeting my goals as an educator. I want my students to MOVE to the next reading level quickly. I want to GET TO THE END of this RTI talk and just do it now. I always have to GO! GO! GO! on to the next activity/meeting/crisis. As much as I hate to admit it, Hurricane Katie’s path of enjoyment and patience along the way to the goal may be the way to go. You can’t rush development. Systems move slowly. As an educator and psychologist, I’ve come to learn that we should judge each day not by the harvest, but by the seeds we plant.
But you’ll still never see me twirling down the hall or balled up in my office reflecting. I’ve got work to do, people.
*I recently got photos of my wedding gown and want to keep them secret on my computer from fiancée. My friend suggested I put them in a file called “Interesting Studies in Education” because who would want to look there? (Besides me, of course).
**I’m super glad that YouTube was not invented at the time of the interpretive dance.