This holiday season, I am fortunate enough to be visiting my son in Florida. In my Michigan home, it has already been below freezing with snow on the ground for about a month, so the opportunity to go to see his new home in a lovely Florida suburb is quite appealing in itself. I set out today to take a walk and get the lay of the land. Last night he showed me how to walk down to a local public golf course, thinking that I would take a morning run or walk and maybe get a cup of coffee in the cafe. I, however, am almost terminally curious, so I walked around the golf course and the lovely neighborhood, but I realized that the downtown was less than a mile away so I could not resist exploring.
The palm trees and the lush vegetation beaconed and I heeded the call. I wandered around the downtown checking out the parks, stores, restaurants and streetscape and even stopped for a smoothie. I had my trusty Google Map and all was right with the world. I should explain here that I had arrived slightly unwell due to stress and overwork, so I was sore and wheezing a bit. My curiosity drove me on. I am a runner, although I had not trained at all in the previous six weeks or so the idea of a five-mile walk was enjoyable. As I walked farther and farther from his house, I began to breathe better and sweat a bit, which was just what I needed. Suddenly, about 2 miles from his house, one of those South Florida downpours caught up with me. I could not see my phone for direction and I was soaked to the skin. I am glad my husband was not with me because he would have scolded me, but this was actually the cleansing rain that I needed to open my lungs and eyes. I had, after all, seen the map. I knew the names of the streets I needed. This was just the freedom that I needed to dance in the rain and make my own path home.
Do we sometimes give our students too much structure? Are we too rigid in what constitutes an “educational” experience? Sometimes we all need the freedom to dance in the rain.