3. Tearing Paper

June 14, 2018

Today I sat back and tore paper. As my Treasure Group (to use my secretary’s shorthand for them when she schedules them on my calendar) sat at the round table in my office, organizing themselves and discussing the story they would tell, my job for the day was to further weather the fabricated newspaper we’d use in the mason jar set to be buried.

They talked about the key and the door it would fit. The only candidate we had was the storage closet in the main office, its lock unaltered in more than sixty years. They discussed other objects that might make this feel more real, including a pair of pliers from 1949 that might be planted near the books.

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“We should keep track of our sources,” someone said, “so we can go back and reference them.” Chromebooks and laptops popped open and they created a shared Google Doc.

It was about this time —or maybe just after as the kids were debating calligraphy, deciding that perhaps Clarice turned pirate because she was repulsed by the slave trade, or researching vellum— that I thought to myself: they are not in class, they are not getting a grade for this, they have not been directed to research and collaborate on a complex piece of written and performance art, and yet…

Here were a group of students, from a mix of grades, artistic pathways, and interests, working together to develop a story that would serve as the basis of an experience their peers would enjoy (we hoped) almost a year from now. They were engaged, they listened respectfully to each other, they debated ideas. Creativity bound them together, and creativity made the group richer than any individual might be alone.

We were still a long way from a successful enterprise, a long way, but the interaction between these fantastic students was inspiring. When I think about the world we live in and look ahead to a time when our kids will be the adults who are making decisions that will impact us all, I’m optimistic because of students like these.

The planning session lasted about half an hour and then the students went on to classes and their daily lives. Clark Kents, I thought, at least to eyes of the world, but as planners, as poets, as pirates, pretty super.

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