One of the most valuable skills that we can model for our kids, expose them to on a daily basis, and encourage them to practice by providing a safe environment to wonder and question is that of critical thought. We do this in a variety of ways at Indi-ED, through our inquiry projects, teaching our students how to ask quality open ended questions, providing them opportunities to ask adults questions, and always encouraging them to question their teachers. However, all of this daily practice is the most evident during our morning meetings. It really is hard to describe it, to experience it takes your understanding to a whole other level.
Each morning all of our students from K-12 meet in our Inspiration Room where we reflect in a journal and prepare our thoughts about a quote and a question of the day. Then the students take turns leading these morning meetings where we encourage vulnerability, respectfully disagreeing, and being courageous to share your perspective knowing it will not always be the same as the person next to you. We practice actively listening to each person who speaks with an open heart and an open mind. Sometimes what we say doesn’t come out right, but we don’t criticize or judge. We are all there to grow and learn from each other. It is beautiful to watch the kids build off of each other’s perspective and learn from each other. It is pure magic and something that I wish everyone could experience and practice every morning.
I will leave you with a sample of some of the quotes students have selected to discuss from our first unit this year and several of our students’ responses.
Quote: “Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” -Confucius
Question: Where do you see beauty in the world?
A 9 year old student’s response, “When you get through the chaos and work through the mistakes, that is where I find beauty.”
Quote: “Stories may well be lies, but they are good lies that say true things and may well someday pay the rent.” -Neil Gaiman
One of our seniors thought it meant that every story has its own perspective.
Followed by a 9 year old: “Good lies are exaggerations on the truth. Political candidates get more votes when they tell a good lie.”
Quote: “Keep your face always toward the sunshine and the shadows will fall behind you.” -Walt Whitman.
A 10 year old student shared her perspective of how those shadows could provide you some shade to sit in.
These profound thoughts happen DAILY.
Sometimes from older students, sometimes our youngest. Sometimes quickly and some after some time and thought has been given.
The quote, question, and form they take do not matter as much as the consistent time and space that we give our students to truly think for themselves.
As we move through the week we’ll share a few more of our students’ words of wisdom in hopes that you’ll be as inspired as we are.