Friday, July 22, 2011

Hannah Emerson: First Impressions of the Fellowship

Every day I look forward to going to work.

For many years, I listened to people talk about their jobs as something they have to do. “It’s how life works, Hannah. You must go to school, learn a trade, and work for the rest of your life until the age of sixty or so.” From the eyes of a young, impressionable girl, this seemed awful. I did not look forward to going to school, and I predicted I would feel the exact same way about going my work.

During my first week as a Kenan Fellow at the Lincoln Center Institute, I watched a lecture by Maxine Greene from Lending the Work Your Life*. At the very beginning of the section, “Thinking of Things as If They Could be Otherwise”, I remember her speaking about routines. What I gather is the way in which routines can lead people to build habits out of boredom. Boredom creates “empty eyes”.

This idea resonates with me. I remember having “empty eyes” during my schooling. My daily routine of sitting in a desk and listening to my teacher lecture for hours did not involve much direct interaction. I found I was often bored. Maybe this is why I grew so found of dance. Dance involves my complete concentration. Very soon I became enamored with how much I receive when I am fully engaged.

As I learn about the Lincoln Center Institute’s Capacities for Imaginative Learning, I do not have “empty eyes.”

The more I notice, the more I question, and I wonder how different I may be if I experienced the same engagement in my primary education. What if the excitement I feel while dancing and on my way to work I felt for school? What if going to school was not something I had to do but something I wanted to do?


*Editor’s Note: Lending the Work Your Life is a DVD recording of Maxine Greene’s speeches at Lincoln Center Institute’s Summer Season workshops.

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