I work with teenagers and sometimes it feels like it takes nothing short of a sledge hammer to get through to their motivation. But I also realize that this lack of motivation is only one I notice between adults and children, but not among the kids themselves.
So it has finally come to this. I have crossed over to the other side....the "grown up" side.
Perhaps chronologically I am, and most certainly in the eyes of my teenage students, I am a.....grown up, but there are certainly times.....okay, there are almost rarely times when I actually feel like a grown up.
I think back to what motivated me back in the day of middle school.
It was pretty much boys and my friends. And having studied the brain and it's development, it makes sense that these things are priorities to people of that age.
So knowing that it is developmentally appropriate to be interested in these things, yet working in a system where the priority is to take tests and memorize facts that they don't care about is challenging.
Ideally, schooling at this age would not be so focused on a lot of what it is focused on, but put more emphasis on teaching young people how to be responsible for their own actions, develop emotionally meaningful connections with their community, as well as a sense of purpose and value in them as people. That is not to say that that doesn't exist, but it's too often a exception rather than the norm.
So I have been thinking to myself what drives me in my work. What is my motivation?
I love working with the kids. They are like malleable bundles of potential energy, little acorns fattening up and gathering energy before they split open their shell and bring their inner world out into reality. I felt this very strongly when I was working with the really young ones, and now that I work with slightly older ones, I feel this energy still, but there's a little more weight in their psychic backpack. A backpack packed, lovingly by society, well-meaning but fear inducing parents/caregivers, teachers, and in some cases, by themselves as a result of their own life experiences.
Watching them travel this path reminds me of my own journey, of picking weighted objects out of my own psychic backpack, making the choice of whether to let it go, put it back in to look at later, or to completely transform it.
It's an interesting process even now, and one that takes a lot of my attention and energy in life. Some experiences are easy to purge, like a yucky, moldy, smooshed up peanut butter and jelly sandwich that is causing quite a mess in the bag, while others are like trophies of a game played long ago.
In myself and also in my students, I see the beginnings of the tendency to hold on to any and everything, the tendency to not let anything in, to be confused, to be one type of personality(one week and then another the next), to be rebellious, to be obedient, to want to please, to want to be completely independent.
These things are new to them. They are working it out. Stretching and testing their roots and wings. That is what I also love and value about the Brain Gym process because it aims to draw out from the individual, by noticing and examining themselves and their actions, what was always there but now noticed before. Lately I have been feeling like working together with the kids, we have unearthed some large unknown objects out of these kids' backpacks. We've connected the dots to some inner kinks affecting their outer world.
Facilitating the connecting of these dots for these kids leaves me with such a sense of satisfaction.
Why I am not really sure. But it's like when we connect the dot and the child has this, "A-ha!" moment, it's theirs forever, and it will change the way they understand a pattern in their lives forever. It will increase their awareness of themselves, and I feel like there's more that makes sense in the world and that somehow brings me comfort.
Paul Dennison, the creator of Brain Gym, once said in a class, under his breath, barely audible, perhaps in his mind, as an aside, "we are teaching kids to live lives they haven't lived yet." I remember this statement made me cry.
It's not possible to avert these kids from anything and everything that will be difficult in life. It's not my intention and I would not be helping them if I was to try to make everything better for them. Perhaps it's my own wish that I had someone show me the way, and it's that little girl that I am actually trying to heal and it's not necessarily about the kids. I suppose it doesn't really matter because ultimately all benefit. All I know is that being around these kids continuously reminds me that it's never too late, and the body and brain are amazing. And once you give it a taste of possibility, it must, IT MUST move towards it.