I’ve always been drawn to music with a strong piano component, be it Billy Joel’s “Piano Man”, Elton John’s anything, or even pure piano such as my mother plays at Christmas from Frank Mills.
One such song, with a beautiful piano, is by Casting Crowns and is titled “While You Were Sleeping.” The song lyrics speak to the story of Jesus dying on a cross in the town of Jerusalem with few knowing the impact that he, or simply the story of Jesus (depending upon your beliefs), would have for thousands of years to come.
Whether or not you are a Christian (and Headwaters Academy is a non-denominational school) the message of the song, as I hear it, is non-denominational in nature. The song speaks to me of a larger idea – the idea that if we do not open our eyes, our ears, and our hearts we might indeed miss something life altering right in front of us. For those of us who parent or teach it reminds us that we might miss the ‘could be’ in favour of the ‘is’ in our children and ourselves. As it plays on my Amazon Prime cell phone rotation on the way to work I am always reminded to look closer, feel more, and to truly listen.
The song was particularly poignant over the past months as I had the opportunity to get to know several children for the first time. Each child, without exception, was remarkably intelligent with deep senses of caring, seemingly boundless energy, and a true ‘joie de vivre’. However, the talents of each were also being missed by ‘the system’, resulting in frustration and a lack of forward progress. No one in particular was ‘sleeping at the wheel’ (particularly not their parents…) but what was happening is that what was truly important, the child, was being lost in the pursuit of measured results, dictated curriculum, and the arbitrary limits that such curricular prescription inspires. In other words – the adults around them were busy serving ever more demanding systems rather than the children that same system exists to serve.
No two children are alike, let alone the twenty four of them who may be sitting in a classroom somewhere studying the same thing at the same pace this very moment. If we do not wake up to this fact and change the way we approach education we too may someday reduced to a lyric about what we missed… “While we were sleeping.”