When I was younger I had this recurring nightmare where I was paralyzed. I couldn’t move and I slowly realized that I was sleeping and that the only way to break the paralysis was to try to focus all of my energy in to moving a foot or a finger or twisting my head. If I could just manage that first twitch I could finally jar myself awake. Eventually, I would successfully break the spell and I would wake up panting with the strain and terrified of closing my eyes and reentering the locked in dream.
This quarantine has become a real life version of this paralysis dream. Not physically of course but I am finding any effort to think about next school year mentally draining. For the last 2 months I have been treading water trying to survive, trying to offer the best online experience I could muster, trying to maintain previously established relationships and connections. The prospect of starting next year in distance learning mode is depressing. Even worse is the uncertainty of which mode, face 2 face or online, to prepare for. Normally, this is the time of year I would be brainstorming new ideas, surveying students what went well and what to improve, and generally just letting my creative spirit run wild. The details will be honed over the summer but this is my time for broad strokes and bold moves.
My college classes largely wrapped up on May 8th. There has of course, been some administrative tasks to accomplish and some district mandated bureaucracy to fulfill, I’m earning the paycheck, but creatively I am in that paralyzed dream.
I know that I just need that creative spark. A moment of intense mental effort to breakthrough the mental barrier. If I can just come up with one idea, one … something … I can break the funk.
There is a quote attributed to painter Chuck Close that “Inspiration is for Amteurs – the rest of us just show up and work”. It reminds me of my favorite quote to share with students by Hemingway:
I’m hoping that today I’ve started this mental effort. I took out my handy dandy notebook and just started writing. I started thinking about themes and realized what I really wanted to think about was the message I want students to take from the theme. I want them to be historians and use those skills.
I want them to be detectives of the past.
That sounds good.
Maybe Super powered detectives… like class full of Batman’s pupils. I wonder if Donors Choose will fund a Batcave…