Out of Control

IMG_7241-wwwMy sons have been out of control all day. Having snowball fights out in the garden, chasing each other around the house, yelling and screaming. One part of me is happy to see them well and full of energy after that rough patch we had, another part of me would like to put them in their rooms to read a book or draw a picture. There is a saying in our culture stating that shoemakers’ kids never have shoes and as far as teachers’ kids are concerned they are supposed to be the worst behaving ones of them all. Well, I don’t really buy that even though I see how it could really be so, teachers not having the energy to talk to their own kids after a full day of talking to others’ kids. Instead I find myself wondering what amount of control is necessary and what is my own limit in putting up with something that feels out of control.

IMG_7236-wwwAll this week I have tried to make my students write in English. But I can’t!, I make so many mistakes, no one can understand what I’m trying to say!, I have no idea what that is in English!, I really can’t come up with anything to write!. And I try to tell them to just write down words, one after the other, anything. And it seems to me that it is the self-control in them that holds them back. I don’t know how to write stories, I’m not good at this sort of thing, Don’t you know what my grade is in English, there is no way I can write a story in English!. And after they get over this part of self doubt and sticking to the role they have been given and they have so willingly accepted, they forget how bad they are supposed to be in writing English and they deliver. And then I find myself thinking that sometimes being out of control really is a positive thing and prerequisite for the creative force in us.

IMG_6944-wwwWith my teacher friends we often talk about Doorknob Pedagogy which means that when you open the door to your classroom to start the lesson you have no idea what you are going to do with the kids that day. The term is used jokingly when there really hasn’t been any time to prepare, but also when we talk about being creative in front of the class because it does sometimes feel like preplanned lessons are the ones that never work anyway. When you have no plan, except the notion of what the topic is that day and you have had the same lesson many times before during the previous years, you can use all your creativity to figure out what seems like the best way to go about it today. Quite often I am grateful for having such a profession where I can be creative, out of control and even foolish sometimes. Doorknob Pedagogy might not be the best solution in a board meeting with a room full of suits.

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When we say that being in control is merely an illusion, I think it cuts both ways – you’re never completely out of control either. We should abide by certain rules, not hurting anyone or breaking any laws even when we’re ‘out of control’ and we should be allowed to break the rules of doing things the way they are normally done and act a little crazy every now and then. And when we do that, we are merely nonconforming to the traditions and unwritten rules of society when we behave so unpredictably, feeling free in our make believe world of uncontrollability.

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26 thoughts on “Out of Control

  1. Loved you post, Anika. As a failed teacher ( could suffer this for 1 year only and long ago), I can say that my students were out of control all the time, and I was unable to turn this behavior to anything creative. So I can only admire your experience !

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  2. Lovely and well written!
    In college we called this Organized Chaos in theory….now I’m living it. This is my approach to most of my film projects. It just works.
    Cheers.

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    1. Hi SueAnn, thanks for stopping by and leaving such a kind comment. I see you’re from Sierra Nevada’s – I lived in Placerville for a year back in 1989-1990. Very beautiful up there, following your blog now also.

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      1. Thanks….now you can get a little taste of the SierraNev beauty. : )
        I always enjoy your posts. have a great day!

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  3. Another interesting post, Annika, and beautiful photos. I LOVE the expression ‘doorknob pedagogy’! When I was a summer camp director, all our rules boiled down to two things–safety and courtesy. My mom used to say, “Choose your battles carefully.” I had expectations of my students and my own children, too, but when it came right down to it, there were very few rules outside of basic safety and courtesy that were worth fighting over. I would help the kids redirect their energy into something productive and creative, and the camp and our household were both pretty happy places that hummed with good energy. Great post.

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  4. Someone I know describes teaching/ lecturing as “opening the window”. Not providing all the answers, but helping the students to see out of the window.

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    1. That is a wonderful way to describe teaching! I always like to say that I try to make myself invisible in the classroom. I guess you can say that I like to open the window and enjoy looking at my students enjoying the view. Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving such a thoughtful response.

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  5. Beautiful pictures – and wise musings. Please tell your students that however bad their English is, it’ll be much better than any Brit’s Finnish – with very few exceptions!!! People limit themselves because they believe they can’t do things, but as we know, we’re much more capable than we like to admit and often choose to stay within the limit of our comfort zone!

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  6. Great post Annika. I really liked your insight about ‘self control’ and ‘self doubt’ holding people back from being creative. Your thought that “sometimes being out of control really is a positive thing and prerequisite for the creative force in us.” is encouraging.

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  7. So glad your kids are well again.And it is so good to read your thoughts about day-to-day teaching, and your efforts to untie all the knots that make kids (and teachers!) afraid to fail.

    ~lucy

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  8. I think you should be glad that your boys are somewhat out of control. That can only do them good – as long as they have an idea of what is right and wrong and know where the limit is – even if they forget it in the moment. More often than not being in control means limiting ourselves or any given process. As you say about the students and your teaching. Bot all the time, but sometimes. And again your photographs are simply lovely.

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