The best children books are crayon covered with finger-stained and tattered pages. These are the books that have been loved.
Today we toured a local public school in Tbilisi, Georgia-School No. 165. Cracked, with chipping paint on the walls and rough wooden floors held down in places by bits of tape. Public schools in many parts of the word (and increasingly in the United States) are not viewed in the same light and standing as many private institutions. As such, public schools must make due with what they have, often times with less-resources than their private school counterparts. Sadly, because of this, public schools can at times be “looked over.” This by no means is a knock on Private Institutions-as a parent you only want what is best for your children, however, sometimes you need to look beyond the smoke and mirrors to see what is really going on in a school and the key to doing so, is in talking and interacting with the students.
As an educator, when I meet kids for the first time (outside of my classroom/school), I ask them if they like school. Equally, I have students that fall on both sides of the line. I have met students who both “love” and some that “hate” school. As I push students further in these conversations, it rarely has anything to do with the physical state of their school, or even that they feel like their teachers are mistreating them. Almost always, it comes back to student validation and self-worth. Not the kind that comes with a letter grade or an award or acknowledgement (some students are motivated by grades, trinkets and monetary rewards, I will not go into the dangers of such actions- I will say however, this is not the type of validation that fosters “love” for ones school). True self-worth and validation comes when students have learned that they have made a difference in doing something to better themselves, their community, and in the process they discover more about themselves, fueling future passions and opening doors to possibilities. This kind of learning is transformative and life changing for students.
A school should be more then four walls and desks in a row, our students deserve better. They need to be exposed to the world and given a chance to become more than a number. In my short career I have had the pleasure to work with some of the most talented and creative students. They are the ones that fuel my passion to teach. The beauty of the situations that I have taught is in the opportunities that students have had to express themselves; sharing their talents in the community designs and collaborations we have with many of our local businesses. The magic behind successful schools is not found in shiny polished floors, new desks, or technology. Rather, it is making the most out of what you have got, helping students to discover their passions and using those talents to reshape the world.
Blessed today to see beautiful examples of students who helped to transform my understanding of their culture. From their traditional dance to the sharing of their stories and talents, I love it when I get to witness students expressing their love and passion for their culture and life-it is contagious. The students of School No. 165 provided a wonderful experience for the U.S. Teachers and helped us to better shape the story we will share with our own students about this remarkable country and people.
Below: Two students dance the "Kartuli."
Above-Kartuli (ქართული) - The dance Kartuli many times reminds the audience of a wedding . Kartuli is a truly romantic dance. It is performed by a dance couple and incorporates the softness and gracefulness of a woman and dignity and love of a man. It shows that even in love, men uphold their respect and manners by not touching the woman and maintaining a certain distance from her. The man focuses his eyes on his partner as if she were the only woman in the whole world. He keeps his upper body motionless at all times. The woman keeps her eyes downcast at all times and glides on the rough floor as a swan on the smooth surface of a lake. The utmost skill, which is necessary to perform Kartuli, has earned the dance a reputation of one of the most difficult dances.
Below-Mokheuri: Traditional Georgian Dance