Name That Tune
It’s Your Party
Back in the day, we used to think it funny to wind up our history teacher, Mrs Bladen, by humming while she was speaking at the front of the class. It’s was childish “group think” thing which made no sense at the time. Now I know it was an act of rebellion, safely carried out in solidarity with fellow students who shared an inability to resist the sense of mischief.
The Revolution Has Come and Gone
Mrs Bladen had tried with all the linguistic weapons at her disposal to quash our puerile protest. On several occasions, to our amusement, she called in “back-up” in the form of the stern Head of Year to observe and scrutinise the goings-on. But we knew while we maintained a straight face and a solid block of intent we had, at least, safety in numbers. So we hummed away.
No One Else Can Learn for Us
One day, out of the blue, she blind-sided us. Instead of reacting in her usual way, she gently sat at her desk, picked up a book and started to read; quietly and earnestly. Eventually, she looked up, turned a page and said, “Oh? Please! Keep humming. It’s your party. This happens to be one of my favourite books and it’s coming up in your exam in a few weeks.’
Our one-person audience had opted out of the game. The revolution had come and gone in a moment and all that remained was the fog of learning. We were rebels without a cause, peering through the fog, discovering there are a limited number of moments granted to us when can change the inherited trajectory of our lives. Limited that is, like the stars in the sky, not by our ability to count them, but by the manner in which we take cognisance of our experiences.
Creativity Is an Animal With No Natural Predators
There are some things we have to master (and keep doing) for ourselves. Learning is one of them. In terms of wellbeing, it’s how we connect and share. Creativity is first amongst equals in the choir of learning-related skills because it’s the one we’re all born with. With play and practice, over time, we develop the more nuanced skills of comprehension, evaluation and application. As well as a greater appreciation of the need to share, which is a function of collective memory.
More so than ever, learning is a social endeavour. My classmates and I were merely doing what came naturally. Maybe, we were saying, please Miss I don’t understand. Or maybe we were just scared; experiencing for the first time in our lives the doubts and fears that can creep into the learning process when data flows too quickly.
Along with the extraordinary gift of creativity, we’re also born with two deeply rational fears. Those are loud, unexpected noises and the fear of falling forward. These innate sensibilities serve the purpose of accelerating our ability to understand and grow-up in our immediate environment. Who wants to sleep through a big bang or a sense of falling? Forty years on from the point of origin of this story, I have it on good authority that the kids at the school I was privileged to attend still hum the occasional tune to let the teacher know they’re learning as best they can.