Today’s similar but --- Unique, unlikely, and compelling collaborations—
It’s safe to believe it’s not just a fluke---
At my feet lies Harley, an aging, wise, and loving 90 pound German Shepherd. Rescued from abuse and neglect some 6 years ago, this handsome guy has become an integral family member.. His love of life—in the past chasing deer, treeing wild turkeys, and stalking rabbits -- is still evident as his heart, his loyalty, and his love shine through despite his increasing deafness and weakened hindquarters.
And now a seasoned blogger who appears to bring love, and laughter, and learning to his audience and collaborators—those youngsters who still believe and want to believe and join in the fun as this canine speaks to them.
In 2007, I was amazed, yet thrilled by the connections, the learning and the pleasure inspired by Harley’s posts. I feared though the time spent with the Blogicians that year might have been a fluke—just a group of students who happened to like dogs. Yet I hoped – as Harley’s blog seemed to deal with an issue that had saddened me as I sensed since my retirement that the joy of learning and going to school had continued to decline. Steven Wolk addressed those same concerns in an article in Educational Leadership in the fall of 2008 when he wrote:
“from John Dewey's Experience and Education (1938): "What avail is it to win prescribed amounts of information about geography and history, to win the ability to read and write, if in the process the individual loses his own soul?" (p. 49). If the experience of "doing school" destroys children's spirit to learn, their sense of wonder, their curiosity about the world, and their willingness to care for the human condition, have we succeeded as educators, no matter how well our students do on standardized tests?”
I said out loud as I read his article on the Joy of Learning and pledged that Harley would continue to blog as long his audience appreciated his posts and he and they learned from each other. To this day in 2009, Harley’s posts do encourage a sense of wonder and a willingness to care for each other as he communicates and learns through connections on his blog. And happiness and learning are evidenced this year by recent posts from Reflective Voices (5th graders in Georgia, another of Anne’s projects) who looked back on the year commenting to and hearing from Harley. Harley thanked them here and linked to each student’s post; Filemon’s is particularly revealing.
Isn’t the addition of the term “compelling” appropriate here? How is it that a shepherd can encourage multiple comments from Graciela well into the evenings? Aren’t these youngster’s reactions to Harley’s blog telling us something?
Could it be that a voice that is unique, that is joyful and thankful, that radiates love and concern for all , that shows a genuine interest in his reader’s learning can truly model and generate engaged learning in which youngsters’ eyes sparkle, in which questions abound and answers are eagerly sought, and from which a lifelong love of learning arises?
And if that is so, when might your “Harley” enter the blogosphere to contribute an additional unique perspective bringing even more joy and wonder to learning?