My 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.
All 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.
With 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.
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.