A friend of mine gave me two books the other day. One I have read all the way through and the other I have browsed through. They are alike…and they are 100% polar opposites. The first, more of a coffee table/picture heavy book is called A Lifetime of Secrets by Frank Warren. Warren invited people to send a secret to him on a postcard or in a letter that he curated as an art installation. They range from unthinkably horrible to silly, yet their arrangement and juxtaposition creates a powerful message. This idea of sending anonymous secrets on the back of postcards is an interesting one–and one, and one that people seem to get relief from the sending…and maybe relief in reading the anonymous secrets of others. Here’s a related website.
The other book is The Book of Awesome by Neil Pasricha. This is a collection of little things that make people happy…like when you find cash in your coat pocket or the grocery store opens up a new line just when you think the wait is endless. Each is written as short vignette–as short as a sentence or two to as long as a couple of pages. This book also has a related website where people can submit their own awesome moments (in 1000 words or less).
What strikes me about both of these pieces is the way people want to connect–even if it is anonymously. People seem to have an urge to know that those things that burden or delight them also resonate with others, that they are not alone. Like these water lilies I photographed today, tangled connections seem to help us as we live and grow.
So as my thinking often does, I came back to the classroom with my thoughts about these books. So how does the sharing of secrets and the sharing of awesome moments connect to the classroom? I’m thinking about all those little things we do in the classroom to establish a trusting, cooperative, and collaborative community. The ways we work to support each other in spite of our differences. And a lot of that happens through writing–just like it did in these books. Our writing uncovers our lives and lets others in. It exposes our interests and our fears, our hopes and our dreams.
In response to my thinking about establishing a genius hour in the classroom in yesterday’s post, another friend commented about her experience seeing “wondering walls” in classrooms where students wrote down their questions–those things they are wondering about. I’m already thinking about how a wondering wall might serve as an entry place for developing student-generated projects…and for encouraging students to use their classmates wonderings as springboards for their own. Would that be like Postsecrets and The Book of Awesome — a place to connect and learn from each other? A way to develop community and create collective interest as we pursue our individual wonderings? What do you think?