Tuck and I are driving to Deepak’s place (Nicholson Ranch Winery) to pick up a used wine barrel so that I can follow through on my latest idea. This one came from a combination of coaching the SVHS boy’s tennis team and working daily with an adolescent population (Tuck included) that is always lamenting that there is nothing to do for kids in Sonoma.
I don’t buy it, partially because I’ve seen plenty of motivated, driven, happy students and because the lament was the same one I said as a 16 year-old growing up in Modesto many, many, many, many years ago.
Something is wrong if you are bored all the time. Like something in your homeostasis is off. Humans are not made to be bored; we are made to create stuff. If we were made to be bored we would still be sitting in caves, staring at the wall (the original TV). But no, we went out, we explored, we conquered other animals, we built stuff, we created art, we developed, we grew, and we prospered.
Everything in your day was created by a non-bored person who looked at life and said, “Hmmm, wouldn’t it be great if…” That’s in all of us, in our DNA, in our humanness; the interest in bettering is universal (Insert snarky comment about Donald Trump here).
Education is all about fighting boredom. Opening doors so that young minds can walk through. Planting seeds by instilling a sense of wonder and adventure (Can this best be done on a Google Chromebook? Doubtful.). But as the saying goes, we can only lead them to water, we can’t make them drink.
At graduation this year I brought out a post it from a graduating student, one of many little notes of civility and appreciation that she would often leave around my classroom throughout the year. It’s why teaching rocks and it made me cry in the middle of my speech. We go deep at Creekside, we show emotion, we connect, united we stand and all that.
And now it’s summer, and summer is all about recharging the batteries (unless you believe, as our president does, that the body is a big battery and you should conserve the energy by never exercising). Schedule a few trips, do a little work, reconnect with friends, get those projects done around the house.
But if you are 16 and your main source of dopamine is the ping of your phone, thinking outside the screen might be tough. Start with a job. Summer break was created originally so that kids could work the fields because hard work is good. Entitled kids are bad. Plus a job builds neuropathways, connects us to others, teaches us how to fail and get back up, and puts a little scratch in our pocket to afford the other things we want to do during the summer.
Next, learn something new. Write, paint, create music, try a new sport (Frisbees are the new kendamas). Meet a friend for a daily walk, go paddle boarding, sit under a tree in the plaza and write poetry, go buy a cheap bike from Adrian at Operation Bicycle and explore like the curious non-cave dweller you are.
Also, utilize your environment. People pay thousands of dollars to visit our little slice of paradise but you live here. No where else in the world can you explore oceans, lakes, rivers, bays, wineries, camps, casinos, shops, fishing, world class dining, and the wonderful craziness of San Francisco, all within an hour.
Tuck and I wrestle the barrel into my truck then go by the tennis shed to collect rackets. For some reason, people donated rackets to the team all season long which I appreciated as I had some new players who needed them. I gave the ones away to those who wanted them and now have found a use for the rest.
The plan was to cut the top off the wine barrel and leave it filled with rackets and balls by the courts at Larson Park. Fortunately, when I explained this to my students they not only told me it was a bad idea (rackets would get trashed, wine barrel would get rolled into the creek or stolen, I would get in trouble for leaving garbage in the park) but that they wanted the rackets. Nice solution.
Happy summer, please exit the cave.