The Head's Blog: Some Assembly Required
by Dan Scheibe
Click here for a full (and lengthy) backstory of the title.
(Here is the content of an email, subject: "If we had assembled...," that went out to the community after the attacks in Paris. It is worth sharing in this space.)
To the Lawrence Academy Community:
If we had gathered for assembly this morning, we certainly would have recognized the tragic events in Paris Friday with a moment of silence and words of reflection. Surely we would also have made mention of our arts events, the closing of the regular season in athletics, the post-season, and exams as well. Life moves on in ordinary and extraordinary ways.
For those closest to the violence and mourning in Paris, there is particular pain and turmoil. Sadly, events like these command our attention more than just occasionally and we must summon whatever perspective, solidarity, and sympathy we can for the occasion. In that light, I wanted to share some reflections that have gathered over the years.
Human Suffering, Human Actions, Human Words
It’s that time of the fall when a bunch of different activities are reaching a high point. Peak performance season follows peak foliage by a few weeks. Classes and productions and rehearsals and practices and seasons are all reaching their conclusions. It doesn’t matter whether the conclusion is a 45-second music performance, a 60-minute championship game, or a 2-hour sit-down exam, these moments are full of energy and possibility.
Unfortunately, the way the human system sometimes processes these moments is through an expression of anxiety—that “I-don’t-know-if-I-can-do-this-or-even-want-to-do-this-or-even -be-here” feeling. And yet we build to these moments all the time, not only in educational communities but in all societies in which progress and achievement are prized.
As I watch these events unfold at Lawrence Academy, I am struck by a difference: rather than pure anxiety around these culminating experiences, I see society—a group of …
We’ve been at it for about a week at school — through the first routines of classes and meals and athletics and auditions. Through the raw emotional mix of exhilaration and apprehension that marks the beginning of anything. Through the opening sequence of Windsor Mountain (orientation), looking towards the next mountain (Monadnock on Mountain Day).
Time to take a breath, to look around, to notice and appreciate where we are, and to set ourselves for what is next. Of course, I am being cute here because we have been doing more than the usual breathing in these first days of school. Each morning, whether in assembly or advisory, we have actually and literally sat with awareness on breath for several minutes. This practice has been the start of our days and of a mindfulness program at Lawrence Academy.
“Program” is not a great word, really. It describes something a computer does. The point of mindfulness practice is to connect meaningfully to some of the …
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