Friday, December 23, 2016

When You Don't Know What to Say: Smack Dab in the Classroom by Dia Calhoun

What do you say to kids when there is so much trouble in the world, and at home? What books do you hand them to read that might speak to this? I think of the traditional hero stories where one individual can change the world by fighting the darkness. The character Will in Susan Cooper's The Darkness Rising. Frodo in The Lord of the Rings.. But most of all right now, I think of Ged, in The Wizard of Earthsea.

Through an act of great hubris, Ged released a shadow into the world. To catch and put the shadow back Ged worked to discover the shadow's name.Naming a thing gives one power over it. But Ged couldn't find the name.  Only when he realized the shadow was his own, could he name it: Ged. And integrate it back into himself.

We all tend to project our own shadows--the dark, repressed, unacceptable parts of ourselves, thoughts or emotions--onto others. And are blind to it in ourselves. Countries and cultures and religions have shadows, too. They project these onto cultures or people who are different. They become "the evil," or the cause of all the bad things happening.

In my opinion, in our recent presidential election in the United States, we have chosen to be led by the collective shadow of our country.

So what do we say to kids when there is so much trouble in the world and at home? Let's start by looking closely at our own shadows so we can own them and name them. Then we'll be less likely to project them onto other people or groups. This examination is a heroic act. One individual can change the world if she begins by fighting the darkness in herself.

And be sure to hand the kids, The Wizard of Earthsea.

Wishing you joy,
Dia

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