After finishing Gym Nasties I realised that I hadn’t really explored this feeling of unworthiness that came over me yesterday, but it did make me think, and this is what I thought.
PE lessons were a whole list of things I couldn’t do.
• I couldn’t swim
• I couldn’t do a cartwheel
• I couldn’t do a handstand
• I couldn’t play tennis
• I couldn’t play squash
• I couldn’t do canoeing (because I couldn’t swim)
• I couldn’t hurdle
• I couldn’t run long distances
But here are the things I could do.
• I could weave fabulous stories
• I could read a book in a day
• I could paint and draw
And school didn’t really matter about any of those things. School was about fitting into a box; passing tests and playing in teams and joining clubs. As an adult none of that matters. The list of things that I could do, these are the things that are important and the list of failures just slipped away to the back of my mind until they were resurrected by the ‘club’ mentality. And this is where schools are failing, by instilling failure into us from an early age.
I don’t know if I believe in Howard Gardner’s ‘Multiple Intelligences’, but I do believe that each and every one of us has some talent. But school is not the place to nurture and develop that. In his book ‘Frames of Mind’ Gardner asks us to:
“Consider, for example, the twelve-year-old male Puluwat in the Caroline Islands, who has been selected by his elders to learn how to become a master sailor. Under the tutelage of master navigators, he will learn to combine knowledge of sailing, stars and geography so as to find his way around hundreds of islands.” (P3-4, Gardner, 1993)
Well I did consider that twelve year old. He caught my imagination and I imagined him in a two sailed, hand crafted boat navigating by the stars. I imagined the beauty and freedom of having that knowledge in your head as the warm waters lapped at the edge of your boat. I didn’t consider much more, as the book then delved into neuropsychology in a way that my head didn’t understand. What I do understand is the narrowness of the society within which we grow. Our expectations are so low. Get educated, get a job, provide, but never do we ask why? What is the point of this existence and why are we humans so capable of creating and imagining so much for such a futile existence.
Einstein said: “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” And that I believe in more than anything. So I imagine a world where instead of boxes and clubs, everyone can be the person they are meant to be and not grow up with that sense of failure - however buried – inside of them.