There is Life After the Thesis

After chronicling my thoughts, feelings, ideas, and experiences throughout the thesis process on this blog (formerly entitled Rites of a Thesis), it seemed odd to me to simply let the blog go just because I had turned in my thesis and graduated. I don't want to merely "shelve" my thesis nor do I want all that I got from my time at Naropa to lie dormant. I want my thesis to continue to live and breathe and become, and I would like all the teachings and experiences I had during my time at Naropa to do the same. So I am keeping the blog (changing the title), and am commiting to myself to (w)rite on as I journey forward.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Quest

To be on a quest is nothing more or less than to become an asker of questions.
- Sam Keen

Even if I walk away from my thesis for a whole day, it stays with me. It is always in the back of mind from morniong 'til night. Even during the school day, when I am focused on my students and what we are doing in the moment, my thesis is always looming, asking the questions throughout the day, in that tiney, quiet thesis voice in the back of my mind.

This morning during drama rehearsal, the girls and I choreographed movements for a song in the play called Jackmaker (sung to the tune of Matchmaker from Fiddler on the Roof). I gave them direction, and then they came up with a few better moves. It was a collaborative process, and it was a really nice interchange of give and take.

As we were going back to our classroom (we rehearse outside where we have more space), some of the students were singing the Jackmaker song and a few of the kids were singing another song from the show. It wasn't anything monumental - it was just really nice to see/hear the students enjoying the song and the comraderie that comes with working on a production.

In Language Arts, our discussion turned to peer pressure and conformity - as the theme of individuality v. conformity runs through the book we are currently reading, A Wrinkle in Time. I asked questions, the students asked questions and we had a really thoughtful discussion.

Later in the day, during Social Studies, my students had the option sof working individually, in pairs or small groups to read a packet on ancient Rome and answer specific questions (on paper). I walked around (some were outside, some were in the classroom) and spent some time chatting and asking questions regarding the reading with some of the students. At the end of the period, we all met back in classroom and had an all-class discussion to wind up the reading. The students all had thoughts and feelings to share about the reading, and we also began (we ran out of time) to make comparisons to the book we ae currently reading as our read-aloud book, The Giver.

Throughout the day, my students and I engaged in play, in study, and in discussion. We shared ideas, thoughts, and experiences. We connected in different ways, on different levels.

As I said: this isn't monumental. It is just part of our day to day. And yet I wonder if we are able to have the conversations/discussions we do because of who we are, or because of the atmosphere we have created. Through ritual. And I wonder, if what I am seeing/feeling is seen/felt by my students - which, I think it is, from what they've told me.

Tonight, I typed up answers to questions from the "non-contemplative" questionnaires I received back from some of my fellow colleagues. I also cut/pasted answers from an online survey I conducted with three Naropa graduates. This will be part of my "Findings" chapter in my thesis. I thought about (and asked questions) about the answers I received, how I conducted the surveys, the questions I asked,,,Did I ask enough? Did I use enough teachers? What does this data offer me? What are its implications - if any?

In the musical, Man of La Mancha, Don Quixote tells Aldonza, "Whether I win or lose does not matter." She then asks, "What does?" Don Quixote replies, "Only that I follow the quest."

So every day, I do my best to remain open and aware. I continue to "notice what I notice" (per Lee Worley), and I continue to ask quest. I just can't seem to not do that.

Don Quixote sings:

And I know, if I'll only be true
To this glorious Quest,
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm
When I'm laid to my rest.

And I will be peaceful - I hope - when I am done with my thesis.

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