Meaning Schmeaning

by beccaborrelli



The Tree of Life. Gustav Klimt. 1909.

“Our education system has mined our minds, in the way that we strip mine the earth for a particular commodity.

And for the future it won’t service. We have to rethink the fundamental principles on which we’re educating our children.” —- Ken Robinson

***

There are children I still think about 2000 miles away from Ohio in graduate school.

One of them is “H.”

In Second Grade H told me she could see spirits. She stuffed hands in pockets and rocked back on heels.

“I mean, I don’t tell kids. They would just like… think I was weird or something…

Yesterday I came around to my front yard, and there one was. At first I thought it was a person, but then it kind of faded.”

Straight face. No joke. Eyes peering into mine… looking for a hint of understanding.

While other children were drawing pictures about being a doctor or famous singer one day… H drew about owning a sushi restaurant and being the head chef.

***

Teachers told a story of H as a five year old, that I will always remember. My first year teaching, H was seven years old. I didn’t know her in Kindergarten. That year her class discovered our school was going to remove a tree from the front lawn. As I wasn’t there, and am retelling this from secondhand, I’ll embellish now, although the general facts I believe are correct.

Apparently H became very distraught.

Our principal, the lovely soul that she is decided to have a tree ceremony. They didn’t draw pictures of trees in cinderblock classrooms. They didn’t sing songs about trees during carpet time.

Children surrounded the tree, and teachers recalled H wrapping her arms around it’s trunk, big tears coming down as she said goodbye.

This is the type of person I want to grow up and lead my country.

***

“I conclude that the question of meaning is the most urgent question of all.” – Albert Camus

Silly Camus. How will we measure that.

Damn.

I mean, does it really matter if schools address the most urgent question? What about the second most urgent question?

~Sushi ventures produce capital to enrich the local economy.

~Tree cutting gives thousands of people a job.

~Don’t even get me started on spirit visions. Freaks, all of them.

I mean, if a tree is on prime real estate, does meaning really like… matter? If kids are ready to participate in the economy, do they need personal frameworks of meaning? Don’t tree ceremonies waste like… um… time. Time that five year olds should be learning stuff? Like numbers, letters, colors and seasons? On a handout with coloring pages.

Come on… who’s really happier? A broke hippie battling over-consumption from a tent, or a broker in the Hamptons? I mean like, hello. No brainer…

Literally.


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