Yesterday after the short sweet rain; and after the sure and faithful mail lady’s truck has passed out of view. I know she has come and gone because I heard her truck. I can hear now. It is so quiet that I can hear the trees sway from the smallest encouragement of a breeze. I hear the woodpeckers hard at work (I do hope they are not working on my shed). I don’t just hear birds now; but rather I hear the different songs of many different birds. In the country I have learned how to hear again; like I could hear in my younger Prospect Park days; back then I could hear my kites beating Brooklyn rhythms against the sky.
And so I walk down to the road to pick up my mail. Yes my city friends I must walk down to the road to pick up mail; and thus I am forced to encounter the sights, sounds and smells of nature every day. I turn this daily mail pickup, like most things these days, into a meditation; but that’s another topic for another posting! I am immediately aware as I am walking, that out of all of the flowers gathered on both sides of the path, the purple flowers have experienced an amazing 1 day growth spurt; they seem for some reason to want to get me to look closely at them. And so I look beyond the red, white, yellow, and orange flowery collage, to get a better and closer look at them, since clearly they are trying to get my attention. And that is when I notice the drops of rain, resting gently on purple flowers; and these translucent rain drops, reflecting the sun’s rays, looking like a kind of… purple rain. I admit that I have a weakness for signs and symbolism; and so what could this all mean?
My initial thoughts are about how these flowers have so artfully conspired with the rain and sun to create this: “Purple Rain”. How free is nature to be able to combine, and weave Art and Science into something beautiful. One definition I guess, of a genius, like a Dr. King, A Queen of Soul, or a Prince; is when you are able to merge diverse and distinctly different things, into a single act of beauty.
I think about how the world of education makes so little space for art and creativity. How little time and resources we have invested in designing a common core of educational values that would allow us to identify and grow the multi-giftedness of all young people. The schools that do actually work, are designed to funnel children onto the employee-workspace; but what about the inventive-creative space? Who says you can only learn one instrument; why not 3, 4, or 7? And why can’t we teach that one can engage in design, creation and creative ownership, innovation, direction, production and the performance of art?
Schools should have long names (An inside SSCHS & Phelps joke :-); or at least act like they do. Names and missions that cover multiple areas like: STEM, Art, Music, Creative Writing, Dance, Robotics, History, Drama, Photography-Film, Poetry, Ellington swinging, Ella singing and a Shakespeare Scholars Club! Schools, if not in name, at least in practice, should speak to serving the whole creative and intellectual personality of the child!
Forget about identifying genius in public education; we can’t even get to, and support all of the children who are gifted and talented, and who are trapped in uninspiring and discouraging school settings. We lose them because they are poor, the wrong color, their parents may not have mastered the English language, or they just live in the wrong zip code. Maybe they are lost because they are shot on the way to or from school; or traumatized by the daily violence and death in their neighborhoods…in their lives. Perhaps their potentially gifted brains are poisoned by the water they are forced to drink; or the poison on the home walls that establishes the ‘uncrossable’ borders of their dreams. No one took them to a museum or a play. Could it be that no musical instrument was ever placed in their hands? Did anyone dare teach them an African, Modern or Ballet dance move? Gave them a blank canvas, paint, clay, wood or stone; and then teach them to speak to the world thorough those objects. Did they ever get a chance to show what they know—naturally, inherently? And maybe, like Amy Joyner (that’s her name, she is a person, not just “victim”) they get beat to death in their high school bathroom. Or they die slowly of low expectations, discouragement and disinterest every day in a classroom.
How many have we missed? How many “Hamiltons” will we never see created and performed? The missing Misty Copelands of our land; the undiscovered presence of creative inheritance through an Augusta Savage, Otto Neals or Tom Fellings… And even now, how many young people are calling out their creative gifts to an unresponsive nation? That crying out for learning, and the hope of being bravely and boldly creative; perhaps: “This is what it sounds like when doves cry”