My name was used as a verb recently.
The person that did it told me so. She even described the context in which she used my name when I asked. Maybe she was going to tell me anyway but I was so excited I jumped in and asked to hear the whole story. I mean to think: my name as a verb!
Like a force of nature almost.
Like some dynamic that might influence the world or instigate some movement or something!
Okay, I’m getting carried away. But wow. My name as a verb!
I guess it came out sorta like this:
“I don’t mean to ‘Dan McConnell’ this, but…”
Of course, thinking back I realize I could have been the in absentia butt of some joke. Like when someone says Boy you really Shleprocked that! But in this case, I asked for an explanation because I sensed that it was a good thing. This person and I are pretty tight philosophically and ideologically, though there is a disparity in the intensity of our deliveries.
Turns out it was pretty good. I was proud to have had my name dropped in this situation.
So in just a moment here, I’m going to give my impression, like an impressionist would, of the conversation in which my name became definition worthy. But understand it’s before 5 AM right now. The sun isn’t up. My coffee has slid from out-of-the-pot hot to piss warm and I need to think it out before I write it out, which isn’t usually my way. So you aren’t going to see this happen but it really is about to: I’m going to “freshen up” as real men say.
Hey, you’re still here and my coffee is once again hot! Win-win I say. But back to that conversation where my name became a verb (because in a bit I’ll take another break to crack today’s WORDLE).
It was a conversation where one side represented an insistence that there be more lockstep alignment and assimilation, where everyone was doing the same thing, was on the same agenda, same page, and everyone knew exactly what everyone else was doing and when and how… Essentially “you will be assimilated”, join the Borg collective or the consortium, or whatever you want to call it.
An important aside here is that in my mind, teamwork is vital, and I am not opposed to a shared agenda. In fact, if all involved in the endeavor to educate were empowered to share the agenda to actually do what’s best for learners, especially our youngest learners, I am 100% on board. But when predetermined structures imposed from outside and above demand humans be viewed and valued first by the statistically normed assessment data they produce, and diminish the value of learners and professionals who know better, you’re not doing teamwork. You’re doing surrender and compliance.
That “mindful structure” in the title gets turned into a functional structure. It’s how you set up efficiency and cost-effectiveness first and tweak for obedience and performance, not how you grow minds and culture, and community. It’s the way you train dogs and tune engines, not the way you should raise or educate young people.
And here I’m getting ahead of myself again, goin and gettin’ all preachy.
When it’s about children, learning, and people in general that happens. So here’s my description of how this man became a verb. I may lean into the drama, sure. I know I think through my feelings filter a lot when I should feel through my thinking filter instead. But my god it makes life worth living.
My name was used to put words to the thinking that children and people be treated more like the varied, beautiful individuals that they are and that maybe that is the truer path in the human endeavor to educate.
Use my name as that sorta verb every day of the week.
Now, here’s the thing. Education isn’t simply a “human endeavor”, as in some theoretical warm-and-fuzzy concept, or one that can be allowed to be discussed in broad conceptual word-strokes.
Education does need to have a purpose, and it needs to serve a purpose. In order to meet these purposes it needs to have structure and a plan. Using Mindful Structure, Stories and Enrichment as the path, with the plan being to empower learners to engage with culture and build community, we could start making education actually feel like the human endeavor it is supposed to be.
Okay, I’m chopping here. There’s a bunch more typed below but I have edits to make, coffee to warm, lunch to pack (NYS Math test day 2…ugh). What comes next is me describing the structure I have used and like to set up. For my own daughters, for my students, and for the zone I operate in. Pretty simple, really. Simple rules, close observation and facilitation, and plenty of out-of-the-box opportunities…
I really hate them boxes. I work with roundy pegs. Okay stop, WORDLE time.