We have not had a council in some time, so it was grounding to sit together in a circle and speak and listen from the heart. This gathering was a little different than others in that we had a witness council where some students spoke from the heart in response to a prompt while another group listened from the heart then they switched roles.
In round one, I asked your child to tell a story about a time when you were mean to someone, or someone was mean to you. Then I asked those participating as witnesses, "What stayed with you from what you heard?"
In round two, I asked your child to tell a story about a time when you were kind to someone, or someone was kind to you. Leave out names. Witnesses were asked, "What stayed with you from what you heard (or what are you taking away/"
We ended the council by pairing up and looking one another in the eye while I read the following:
This person has a body and a mind, just like me.
This person has feelings, emotions and thoughts, just like me.
This person has in his or her life, experienced physical and emotional pain, just like me.
This person has at some point been sad, disappointed, angry, or hurt, just like me.
This person has felt unworthy or inadequate, just like me.
This person worries and is frightened sometimes, just like me.
This person has longed for friendship, just like me.
This person is learning about life, just like me.
This person wants to be caring and kind to others, just like me.
This person wishes to be free from pain and suffering, just like me.
This person wishes to be safe and healthy, just like me.
This person wishes to be happy, just like me.
This person wishes to be loved, just like me.
I wish that this person have the strength, resources, and social support to navigate the difficulties in life with ease.
I wish that this person be peaceful and happy.
I wish that this person be loved.
Because this person is a fellow human being, just like me.
After reading the first five books of the Odyssey, with their partners, and performing the first part of this epic poem with their classmates, students delved deeply into an interview between Bill Moyers and Joseph Campbell. Their study began by annotating excerpts from this PBS interview about the Power of Myth and then soon formulated questions to bring to the Socratic seminar. The seminar began with the question, "Is following your bliss the hero's journey?" Over the course of the next hour, students explored this question as well as defining a hero; made connections to other works of literature, fictional characters, and historical figures; commented that the journey may not be so joyful; remarked about our work on resilience a month ago, non-recognition of kind deeds done, and death.
Although some students made connections to mythical stories featuring larger-than-life heroes; others felt that this journey is for all of us; and one student saw acts of heroism in standing up for someone else or a performing an act of kindness.
Parts of the seminar were recorded. Let me know if you need a password to view them.
In upcoming weeks, we will define the stages of the hero's journey and apply them to the Odyssey and a TED Radio Hour show.
Last week, my friend, Mike Sandrock, stopped by to talk with the kids about the time when he was their age and read the Odyssey for the first time and how that led him to a life of adventure. One of these adventures started 31 years ago when he started his non-profit, One World Running. He asked the kids if they were willing to gather school supplies that he can distribute to schools that participated in the kids race he put on last year. Enthusiastically, the children brainstormed and signed up for supplies they could gather and donate.
He returned today and some of the children helped him pack two suitcases full of supplies and balls. He will head off to the small city of Barocoa, Cuba to distribute athletic shoes, organize a trail race, and deliver these much needed supplies to a school that is located two miles in the hills above the city. Mike will be joined by Clare Gallagher, this year's winner of the Leadville 100, and other runners. Both will visit the classroom when they return to show videos and pictures from their trip.
Here's a short video about last year's trip to Barocoa. Another video introduces Mike's inspiration and mission for One World Running.
A group of students are already making posters and planning how they can collect supplies for the One World Running's trip to school children on Île de la Gonâve off the coast of Port au Prince, Haiti in June. I would like to organize a few days this spring when we can help Mike and other volunteers wash, sort, and pack athletic shoes for upcoming trips to Belize, Honduras, and Haiti.