We all come into this world crying, “me, me, me.” Insistent cries of my bottle, my grapes, my toys gradually (hopefully) grow into a feeble understanding of the concept of compromise. We call this turning point adolescence.
Teaching adolescents requires that we help awaken kids to the awareness that there is a world on the other side of their eyeballs. We help them select books with social justice themes, we engage them in community service projects, and occasionally we take them on field trips.
A year ago this weekend Michael and I were in Australia at Canberra Girls Grammar School demonstrating how to write “real” poetry—poetry about real world events. Real poetry is creative non-fiction and a way of seeing and synthesizing topics ranging from the digestive system to genocide. “Where do you get your ideas?” kids will ask. “Look around,” we say. “Stop, look, and listen. The poems will come to you.”
Following our visit to Cate Willis’ classroom at CGG, she worked with her students to step outside of themselves and use poetry to reflect on a recent field trip to the Australian War Memorial Museum. First the writers brainstormed a list of possible themes—key words that stuck in their minds after they observed the displays of the significant and costly contributions of Australian soldiers in a timeline of wars.
Finally, the writers settled on the word “gratitude.” Then the class co-created a Version 1 poem about the word “gratitude.”
Sharing here today, with permission, on our national day of gratitude, Memorial Day. Thank you CGGS!