Valuing Simple Creative Time: The Night Under My Wing
Last week, I had the privilege of spending two days with some 6th grade students, when I was hired through the Arts Council to do a creative writing program with them. In only two days, you can only do so much of a program. And also, in two days, you can do and see and feel so much.
It has been nine years since I was a full-time teacher in a K-12 classroom, and those nine years did not feel as if they had passed at all. There are still awesome teachers doing the work with few resources, too little time, too many arbitrary rules and too many students.
AND, there are still students who are our beloved human beings who want to be heard and seen or desperately want to not be seen or heard, who want to do the right thing, who have no frame of reference for the right thing, who are diverse and annoying and joyful and worthy of so much more than we can ever do for them.
We wrote poems about their hobbies and mixed those with words about flowers and we drew pictures and illustrated a N. Scott Momaday poem and wrote their own “Delight Song” poems. I have very few rules in these activities so no one broke them, and they created things that followed no rules I could have given anyway.
One boy took a brief line from Momaday’s poem and added another line and then created an entire-novel-length story in his head about what his illustration of it all meant. He was very serious, and so was I as I listened to him tell his story.
One girl wrote no words but drew a lovely dragon-type creature for me. I wrote on it, “This is lovely, and I would really like to see some of your words to go with it.” The next day, she added these words to it, “I am a dragon who hides the night under my wing.”
“That is awesome,” I told her and tried to hand the paper back to her. And she said, “No, it’s for you.”
It is now hanging next to my desk in the museum office. I could go on with other examples, but they all go to explain how important reading, writing, listening, sharing, and creating art and poetry are to us.
We must make time for these things. We must value them every day. Finally, I refuse to believe we can’t find more and better ways to do these things.