Listening Session Paintings

Friday, January 16, 2009

The President's Wishes for his Kids and ours

Even though his inauguration has a few days to go, President-elect Obama published a letter to his daughters in Parade Magazine entitled:

'What I Want for You — and Every Child in America'
By President-elect Barack Obama

Before I comment further, the humorist (and ex-PR guy) in me laughs at the fact that he is so busy the only way to communicate with his daughters is to write them a letter in Parade. Too funny... but it turns out the letter is meant for all of us. And what he wrote is beautiful:

"When I was a young man, I thought life was all about me-about how I'd make my way in the world, become successful, and get the things I want. But then the two of you came into my world with all your curiosity and mischief and those smiles that never fail to fill my heart and light up my day. And suddenly, all my big plans for myself didn't seem so important anymore. I soon found that the greatest joy in my life was the joy I saw in yours. And I realized that my own life wouldn't count for much unless I was able to ensure that you had every opportunity for happiness and fulfillment in yours. In the end, girls, that's why I ran for President: because of what I want for you and for every child in this nation.

I want all our children to go to schools worthy of their potential-schools that challenge them, inspire them, and instill in them a sense of wonder about the world around them...."

This is a beautiful sentiment and a totally worthy objective... he does not say he wants our students to go to schools where they become test literate, but schools that are worthy of young people's potential. He talks about inspiration and wonder. YES! I hope he will really listen to his own heart and call for a reprioritizing of our goals for young people. I hope he will listen to the young people that are his children and their friends and as a father, push to make the schools worthy of their potential.

That would be a beautiful intention. Imagine Learning that is filled with wonder, imagination, creativity, inspiration, excitement, challenge, exploration, and last but not least, compassion and love. I can!

I was in a meeting with the Compassion Action Network in Seattle this week and through our inspired conversation, I began to think about how if we asked the teachers and students whether compassion was built into the very structure -- the objectives, standards, policies and procedures of the school system -- we would hear a resounding "very little, if at all." Yet, it was exciting to think about beginning an effort to design a system where compassion and love were essential in its creation.

It would be a much different world for our children Monday through Friday. Go President Obama!

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