Also

The other day I wrote about waiting to offer help until it’s clear that help is needed and/or wanted.  Here’s a bit of follow-up to that:

When we skip the inquiry into the usefulness or necessity of a particular task or activity, we deny ourselves the opportunity to see what might be trying to make itself known in the space created by not pursuing that thing just then.  Any time we’re doing one thing, we have to be not doing another thing; everything we ever do requires the choice to not do something else. And it may in fact be that reading, for example, is not the most important thing for every child to be doing right away.  It may be that for some people the most important first thing to master is listening, that for others it’s building or sorting or observing or climbing or strategizing or swimming or questioning.

It’s possible that obstacles not only offer us, as Randy Pausch suggested, the chance to find out how driven and committed we are about something, but that they also give us an opportunity to find out if there’s something else that might be even better for us, at least right then.

What if, as a result of being inhibited in a particular way, we become able to find our way to the most productive, fulfilling, and otherwise beneficial pursuits available to each of us? The likes of which we might not have found if all of our attention was on that early reading, on getting that arm to move that one way? We don’t have to give up the difficult things to find this out.  They’ll be there waiting for us, inquiry or no.  We just might find a richness in the experience available on the other side of this inquiry that makes the difficult things easier to tackle; more fulfilling and useful against a backdrop of other tremendous purpose or reward because we’ve been willing to go looking beyond the confines of traditional mandate. We might also find that there are things we’ve struggled and struggled with, always held as essential, that turn out to be otherwise and that when we let our grip on them loosen, we get stronger, clearer, happier, healthier for what we become available to do instead.

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2 Responses

  1. Okay, I know I’m repeating a whole paragraph almost here but I think this is just brilliant:

    “What if, as a result of being inhibited in a particular way, we become able to find our way to the most productive, fulfilling, and otherwise beneficial pursuits available to each of us? The likes of which we might not have found if all of our attention was on that early reading, on getting that arm to move that one way? We don’t have to give up the difficult things to find this out. They’ll be there waiting for us, inquiry or no. We just might find a richness in the experience available on the other side of this inquiry that makes the difficult things easier to tackle; more fulfilling and useful against a backdrop of other tremendous purpose or reward because we’ve been willing to go looking beyond the confines of traditional mandate.”

    It’s that sense of tremendous purpose that feels so valuable to me, however we find it. The rest, as my husband says, is logistics.

  2. I continue to love reading your writings. 🙂 And this one came just as I was once again wondering…”Gee, our 10 year old still doesn’t choose to read and is below ‘level’, nor does he really choose to write. But he’ll spend hour after hour at his legos,looking up ideas on the computer, modifying his designs, getting frustrated, coming back and figuring it out, design a new way…” And I waffle between worry and acceptance, knowing many John Holt followers believe basic things often don’t click until age 12 or so. This post certainly speaks to that! I do wonder what your take is on the “very late” readers and writers? (he has, btw, struggled with sensory issues, visual perception and therefore late fine motor skills — just learned to tie his shoes last year and was oh-so-proud!). But I always love hearing what others think!

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